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Report: Bennett's changes to Indiana school grades were "plausible"

An independent review commissioned by the Indiana Legislature found "it was necessary" for former Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett to tweak Indiana's school grading formula while serving as that state's top education official.

Bennett drew heavy criticism for the changes, which became the subject of media reports after he lost reelection in Indiana and was named education commissioner in Florida. The controversy led to Bennett's resignation from his Sunshine State post last month.

Emails showed that Bennett had scrambled to change the grade for Christel House Academy, an Indianapolis charter school run by an influential Republican Party donor.

But Bennett said he was addressing a flaw in Indiana's new school grading model, and that the change helped at least a dozen other schools.

Policy Analytics, the firm hired to do the review, found that the Indiana Department of Education had "underestimated the administrative and technical challenges" associated with developing a new school accountability system.

"In the end, the authors found that the two adjustments administered to determine Christel House Academy’s final grade were plausible and the treatment afforded to the school was consistently applied to other schools with similar circumstances," they wrote.

The authors also suggested state leaders move forward with this year's grades -- and that they be transparent and collaborative as they work to modify the school accountability rules in the future.

After reading the report, Bennett said he felt vindicated.

"More than anything, I felt vindicated for the folks who worked so hard in Indiana," he said.

Bennett said he had no regrets about stepping down from his job in Florida.

"I don’t say that because I don’t miss my job, because I do," he said. "But Gov. [Rick] Scott deserved more in an education commissioner than I could have given the last 30 days."

Some of Bennett's supporters in Florida took to Twitter on Friday afternoon.

"Good report for Indiana's A-F system and @Tony_Bennett," wrote Patricia Levesque, executive director of the Foundation for Florida's Future.

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Not sure

Too bad the report also didn't look into the issue of why when Indiana was asked for the records provided to the reporter who first reported that Bennett "changed" the grades under that reporter's record's request, they couldn't find a request from the reporter, suggesting the information was leaked...


Well of course the changes were plausible and consistently applied. He's not a stupid man. But isn't the real issue why he allowed their system to be created by bureaucrats in a way that harmed certain kinds of schools.

Ed Jenkins

If this is true bring him back. We need good and competent people like him overseeing our rotting education system and schools.

A Facebook User

I guess the "Independent" review forgot to read the emails that show they were deliberately trying to make the generous donor's school look good.

What a fraud this is on the taxpayers.Now you know how the untested, unproved Common Core got as far as it has. Just create facts and come to outrageous conclusions from non-facts.

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