Reformer ToolboxLogin

CancelLost your password?

#AskExcelinEd: What does NAEP tell us about A-F school grading in Indiana?

• Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Last month, the release of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed mixed results nationally, with improvements in states—like Indiana—that are embracing A-F school grading.

This week’s #AskExcelinEd brings you a look at Indiana’s performance. Thanks to Dr. Christy Hovanetz, ExcelinEd’s Senior Policy Fellow, and Jim Hull, ExcelinEd’s Policy Impact Director, for diving into the data!

Every other year, NAEP assesses what America’s students know and can do in math and reading. Which is all well and good, but parents need more localized information about schools to make the best decisions about their children’s education. Enter annual A-F school grading.

Federal law requires all states to publicly report school performance information, but unfortunately, most states use vague labels that are difficult to understand, such as “satisfactory” or “making progress.” However, some states, like Indiana, use an A-F school grading system that recognizes success and exposes failure in a way that everyone can understand. School grading measures what matters: overall student performance and progress, with extra focus on struggling students, graduation rates and college and career readiness. The policy then holds all schools to the same high expectations and clearly communicating the results to parents.

Since 2010-11, Indiana has been grading schools on an A-F scale. And the state’s commitment to the transparent, objective school accountability systems is increasing student performance and spurring school improvement. That improvement is evident on the gold standard of student assessments, NAEP.

The 2017 NAEP reveals that since implementing A-F school grading, Indiana has made greater improvements than the national average in all four assessments—fourth-grade math and reading and eighth-grade math and reading.

A-F School Grading Impact: Indiana


As you can see in the chart above, Indiana’s improvement from 2009-2017 was higher than the national average across all grades and subjects. The difference between Indiana and the national average during this time is the following:

  • 5 points for fourth-grade reading
  • 3 points for eighth-grade math
  • 8 points for fourth-grade math
  • .6 points for eighth-grade math

(For some context, 10 points on a NAEP assessment is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of learning.)

When schools are held accountable with A-F school grades, educators make meaningful changes to improve student achievement. And that improvement is evident from classroom learning to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

About the author

Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. Dr. Hovanetz served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.