By Shelby Mullis
A school’s accountability grade is more than a letter on the page for Cesar Roman. For the Indianapolis parent of five children, that A or F is an indicator of the teacher-student-parent partnership and level of academic education a school has to offer.
Roman addressed the A-F school accountability ratings at a public forum at Decatur Central High School, where parents and educators discussed concerns and ideas regarding the Every Student Succeeds Act. ESSA largely replaces the former federal education law, the No Child Left Behind Act.
“As a parent, I work hard every day to prepare my children for tomorrow,” Roman said Wednesday. “I want nothing but the very best for my kids. I believe education is that fundamental gift that can allow my children to envision a tomorrow full of option and choice.”
The Indiana Department of Education will use the ideas from the forum to help determine how the requirements of ESSA will translate into state practices. Each participating state must submit a plan that includes rigorous state academic standards, academic assessments and statewide accountability systems.
Stand for Children, an education advocacy group, wants the state to keep the A-F letter grade system to meet the accountability requirement. Roman agreed.
“I want to make sure there is an accountability system, an A through F rating system, that is easy for parents to understand,” Roman said.
Two of Roman’s children attend Indianapolis-area schools that are a part of different corporations, which has given him an opportunity to have two different experiences. Those experiences contribute to Roman’s desire to become an advocate for understanding how to support the best interest of a child.
“One of the things I see and hear from parents a lot of times is how complicated the world of education can be and how intimidating that can be for parents,” he said.
Additional ideas addressed at Wednesday’s forum included implementing more school nurses in Indiana schools to address the nurse to student ratio and increasing access to music and arts education to all students across the state. Members of the Indiana Association of School Nurses and the Indiana State School Music Association were in attendance.
The Indiana Department of Education hosted Wednesday’s forum, the first in a series of nine “listening tours.”
For a complete list of dates and cities for the next forums, visit www.doe.in.gov/essa