Florida’s education commissioner Tony Bennett is under attack regarding decisions made while he was in this role in Indiana. Most of the news stories circulating today center on the fact that one charter school in particular, Christel House, received a boosted grade after Bennett learned that it was on track for less than an “A” rating.
The fact that Christel House is owned by a prominent Republican donor didn’t help paint the facts favorably, yet the metrics used by Bennett and his team were well reasoned, and corrected a problem that had not been predicted in the original grading formulas.
Specifically, various schools including Christel House were being penalized for missing data for grades that they don’t serve. Grading formulas were amended to adapt for these differences at schools which serve combined grade levels.
Foundation for Florida’s Future Executive Director Patricia Levesque made the following statement regarding 2012 school grading decisions in Indiana:
“Commissioner Bennett and his department found and corrected a mistake that would have unfairly penalized 13 schools missing data for grades they did not even serve. They fixed a problem to be accurate and fair – any accusation otherwise is false and politically motivated. A-F school grading empowers parents to know how well schools are serving their children, in a transparent and easy to understand way. In 2012, Indiana was in its first year of its new school grading calculation, and there is always a learning process when implementing a policy new to a state. The best thing to do is to lay out the facts, which is what Commissioner Bennett is doing. Political attacks will come and go. The focus must remain on ensuring every student has access to a high-quality education that prepares them for success.”