Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Raised Grade of Charter School Run by Big GOP Donor

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I love this story. Apparently Christel DeHaan is a big Republican donor who runs a charter school in Indianapolis, and last year she became a big problem for Indiana schools superintendent Tony Bennett. Why? Because lousy 10th grade algebra scores meant that her school would receive an embarrassingly low official state grade. What to do?

Trouble loomed when Indiana’s then-grading director, Jon Gubera, first alerted Bennett on Sept. 12 that the Christel House Academy had scored less than an A.

….A weeklong behind-the-scenes scramble ensued among Bennett, assistant superintendent Dale Chu, Gubera, Neal and other top staff at the Indiana Department of Education. They examined ways to lift Christel House from a “C” to an “A,” including adjusting the presentation of color charts to make a high “B” look like an “A” and changing the grade just for Christel House.

Hmmm. That sounds about like the kind of lame plan that a desperate 10th grader who had failed algebra might come up with. In the end, though, Indiana’s public education brain trust came up with a more sophisticated plan from the John Lott school of statistical analysis: Just change the state ranking formula so that Christel House would get a better grade.

Sadly, AP’s Tom LoBianco, who rounded up the incriminating emails about this, couldn’t tell us just how the formula was changed:

It’s not clear from the emails exactly how Gubera changed the grading formula, but they do show DeHaan’s grade jumping twice….Indiana education experts consulted for this article said they weren’t aware the formula had been changed.

I sure hope we learn more about this. Did they decide to reduce the importance of all math tests? Just algebra tests? Or maybe raise the importance of some subject that Christel House did especially well in? Or perhaps just toss out 10th grade scores entirely since, really, who cares about 10th grade anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.

Via Atrios.

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