State leaders have created another new education panel - this one to help develop an A-F grading system to replace one that has come under fire following accusations it was adjusted to help a specific school.
The Accountability System Review Panel will be a 17-member group with appointments from House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis; Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne; Republican Gov. Mike Pence; and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a Democrat.
Ritz will serve as co-chair of the group along side a member assigned the role by the Legislative Council, an administrative arm of the General Assembly. Members will include teachers, administrators and technical advisors.
"Hoosiers know that accountability is essential to success in the classroom," Pence said in a statement. "And they deserve to be confident that our system of accountability for schools is fair and equitable."
Former state Superintendent Tony Bennett is accused of changing the current A-F grading system to benefit a charter school he had been touting. The change benefited other schools as well, raising questions among educators and lawmakers about whether the grades are fair.
In addition, school officials had long complained that the underlying system was unfair as well and so lawmakers had ordered changes - even before the accusations against Bennett became public.
The General Assembly assigned the job of developing the new A-F system to the State Board of Education. But state leaders signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday that creates the accountability panel, which is to report recommendations for grading system changes by Nov. 1.
The announcement comes less than a week after Gov. Mike Pence announced he was creating the Center for Education and Career Innovation to improve collaboration among a number of education-related agencies and commissions, including the Department of Education, Board of Education, Indiana Education Roundtable, Indiana Career Council and Indiana Works Councils.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.