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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Further question arise over Tony Bennett's role in Indiana school grading



Florida education commissioner Tony Bennett has defended himself vigorously against accusations that he manipulated school grades in Indiana to benefit the charter school run by a political supporter. The changes he made, Bennett said, were to ensure that the grading system worked properly — not to help a donor.

The Indianapolis Star reports today that the same consideration was not given a year earlier to two public schools facing a similar situation to the one that Christel House was looking at:

"Two Indianapolis Public Schools might never have been taken over by the state if then-Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett had offered the district the same flexibility he granted a year later to the Christel House Academy charter school.

"The issue was similar in both cases. Christel House had recently added ninth and 10th grades, and IPS’ Howe and Arlington had added middle school grades. The students who filled those seats posted poor enough scores to drag down the schools’ overall ratings.

"In the case of Christel House, emails unearthed by The Associated Press show Bennett’s staff sprung into action in 2012 when it appeared scores from the recently added grades could sink the highly regarded school’s rating from an A to a C. Ultimately, the high school scores were excluded and the school’s grade remained an A.

"But in 2011, after IPS’ then-Superintendent Eugene White demanded Bennett consider the test scores of high school students separately from those of middle school students so the high schools could avoid state takeover, Bennett was unmoved."

See the full story here.

[Last modified: Thursday, August 1, 2013 6:28am]


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