On the face of it, why? If this is so important, why not grade ALL public institutions, starting with the Legislature and the elected officials there? Even Stand says that "schools are already being graded by the Achievement Index" so exactly why do we need this? In fact, the Achievement Index would be what the grade is based on. I note that the Index does not account for Special Education and ELL students within a school which could weigh on a ranking.
I spoke to Superintendent Dorn's office and he does not support it. Why? Because OSPI was charged with an adjustment to the Achievement Index anyway by the Legislature (I believe for rollout this fall).
While you're at it, let the Governor know your feelings as well. What is interesting is that while the Governor supports the idea of grading schools in theory, he has not come out with support for this bill. One key issue is embedded in his own education policy brief:
In order to spur more parent engagement in their child’s school, every parent will receive their child’s annual school report card, which includes multiple measures of school and district success based on a statewide standard developed with stakeholder input.
Did you see that last couple of words? "Stakeholder input." I haven't read thru the bill with a fine-tooth comb but I didn't see HOW this grading would happen. I'm with the Governor - if schools are to be graded, some stakeholder input is needed.
As well, I told the Governor's office that groups like Stand for Children were linking the Senate bill with the Governor's support for more information for parents about schools. They said they were aware of this and have had conversations with several groups (but did not name them) about not doing this. This linkage, without clarification of the Governor's true stance, is wrong.
I told both Superintendent Dorn's office and the Governor's office that SPS has a one-sheet report card that gives parents a lot of the kind of information that parents WANT to know. (Is it perfect? No, but it is informative.) A single letter grade really tells parents very little and it gives a school that gets a low grade, the scarlet letter.
Transforming Persistently Failing Schools (SB 5329) allows the State Superintendent (OSPI) to bring in new leadership, innovation and resources to help struggling schools improve. As reported at the Seattle Education blog, this blog follows the DOE turnaround model that includes
- Turnaround model: Replace the principal and rehire no more than 50% of the staff, and grant the principal sufficient operational flexibility (including in staffing, calendars/time and budgeting) to fully implement a comprehensive approach to substantially improve student outcomes.
- Restart model: Convert a school or close and reopen it under a charter school operator, a charter management organization, or an education management organization that has been selected through a rigorous review process.
- School closure: Close a school and enroll the students who attended that school in other schools in the district that are higher achieving.
- Transformation model: Implement each of the following strategies: (1) replace the principal and take steps to increase teacher and school leader effectiveness; (2) institute comprehensive instructional reforms; (3) increase learning time and create community-oriented schools; and (4) provide operational flexibility and sustained support
The first one, the turnaround, is something of a charter model in that the principal has control over all staffing and budgeting.
The restart model would, of course, allow even more charters in than just under 1240. Meaning, you can only start 8 charters per year with 1240 but this law would give the state even more options.
School closure? Unlikely to ever happen in the near term in Seattle as we are growing. You could not close a Seattle school and then farm those kids out to other schools. We don't have the room.
The last one, transformation model, sounds good but costly and a longer timeframe.
Here's a link to the House contact page.
Here's a link to contacting the Governor.
Dear Rep X,
I write to you in opposition to HB 1476 that would create letter grades for schools. I believe that this will unfairly hurt struggling schools.
We already have the Achievement Index via OPSI and I believe this gives a more fair and accurate picture of how schools are doing. If the State wants to provide a better "snapshot" of a school's performance, they could do what Seattle School District does and provide a one-sheet "report card." Seattle's report card includes a breakdown of test scores, satisfaction of principal by both teachers and parents, racial make-up and other important issues and scores.
A simple letter grade would not do that for a school.
As well, HB 1476 says the criteria to judge a school should be "fair, consistent and transparent." Without stakeholder input, it's hard to know that any grade would be fair, consistent and transparent for a state with rural and urban/large and small districts.
As well, the Governor has not given support to the Senate version 5328 because of this lack of clarity on how the grading will be done.
I urge you to cast a no vote on this important issue.