Grading Schools

Over at the Times there's this article reporting that Republicans in the State Senate are sponsoring a bill to assign a letter grade - A-F - to every public school based on outcomes from standardized testing and "other measures."

High schools also would be graded by graduation rate, SAT scores and AP course participation.


Schools that earn “A” grades would be eligible for teacher bonuses and get more control over the money the state allocates to them.

The bill is sponsored by Senate education Chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.

I'll have to go over this bill to get more details but, as we all know, SPS does have a scorecard for every school with a host of measures.

The kicker (and the number one objection voiced in the Comments section):

Charter schools and alternative schools would be exempted from the grading, unless they opt in.

And why is that?  I thought these were "public" schools and yet they don't have their results poured over.  Where is that accountability?  That only comes at the hands of their authorizers and the public doesn't get to see what their outcomes are?  Hmm.

One commenter provided this link to almost the exact same Florida.  

We should all understand a couple of things.  Nearly everything - from the actual initiative itself to every bill that comes forward now that involves charters - will be coming from outside Washington State (probably via Stand for Children).  Rob McKenna?  He recently said he will be working with them on ed issues. 

Also, where is the money coming from to create this grading system by OSPI and the Board of Ed?  For districts to enact it?  An unfunded mandate if ever there were one and yet, not a penny that would actually go into the classroom.


Charlie Mas said…
This bill relies on the Washington Achievement Index (mis-named in the bill as the accountability index).
Anonymous said…
So districts with many low grade schools will get less funding than districts with high grades.

This should be a recipe to shift funding from Yakima to Bellevue schools. That's the plan to close the achievment gap?

What happened to the funds follow the student, in a backpack?

Eric B said…
If charter schools are the hot stuff that they claim to be, everyone should want to see them included in the grading scheme. So they can prove exactly how awesome they are. The charter commission should be the first people to ask for this change. Accountability, and all that. Not that I'm holding my breath.
Anonymous said…

Did you see bill HB 1450 which will limit the number of statewide assessments. I haven't read it but it's interesting given the MAP boycott.

A friend
Unknown said…
Charter schools and alternative schools were added this morning in an amendment but I can't but heave a big groan.

Grading schools based on test scores is an ALEC agenda at work. Read about how they praise Florida's system of grading schools here on page 12:

Then read what the Tampa Bay Times has to say about tying the funding of schools to the results of the state-wide FCAT scores:

It's just another example of the crazy privatization schemes of the ALEC agenda. I'm not sure that a bill that would enable privatization of entire districts isn't just around the corner based on failing grades on MSP scores. It's just the next head on three-headed monster of using student's test scores for something they were never intended to do.
Unknown said…
I should add that if people want to offer comments to the school-grading scheme bill, they can do so here:
Anonymous said…
Grading schools (???) more baloney from Olympia.

This from the folks that continually fail to fund the schools.

The same folks that approved the Common Core (without even reading the impact report).

So who pays for any of these crappy ideas?

Here are a few new CCSS thoughts on the proposed testing::: Unwritten Tests Present Major Common Core Obstacle

"Education leaders are beginning to publicly worry that two coalitions attempting to determine mandatory tests for some 40 million U.S. students by 2014 can’t pull their massive enterprise together by deadline or at all.

This threatens the entire Common Core project, which in 2014 will tie national tests to grade-by-grade education requirements 45 states adopted in math and English in 2010. Two networks, called SMARTER Balanced (SBAC) and Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), are creating separate tests."

Nothing about most of these "new" programs is based on proven successful practices, yet look for Olympia not to notice the complete absence of supportive relevant data.

-- Dan Dempsey
Unknown said…
The reason that charter schools were excluded from the WA bill is clear when you look at the Florida data. 15 of the 31 schools that received an "F" grade in 2011 were charter schools.
Jan said…
Why is it that Republicans -- those bastions of freedom from regulation and the heavy hand of government oversight, are so enamoured of the idea of micro-control of education (which is supposed to be governed and administrated at the local level, with funding from the state level)?
Unknown said…
The Grades bill is a direct copy of chapter 1 of the 2010 ALEC A+ Literacy Act. Here are the chapters, soon to be served up in a legislature near you: (1) School and District Report Cards
and Grades.
(2) School Recognition Program to
financially reward schools for
good/improving Report Card grades.
(3) Opportunity Scholarships to
provide alternatives for students in
schools with poor Report Card
(4) Scholarships for Children with
Disabilities. (ALEC Model Bill:
Special Needs Scholarship Program
Act)The A-Plus Literacy Act (2010) 2
(5) Tax credit scholarships for low-income students. (ALEC Model Bill: Great Schools
Tax Credit Program Act)
(6) Alternative Teacher Certification. (ALEC Model Bill: Alternative Teacher
Certification Act)
(7) Student Promotion to a Higher Grade.
(8) School and Teacher bonuses for student Advanced Placement success.
Unknown said…
@Jan Privatization. This bill is based on the narrative that public schools are always failures. Only privatized schools can be successes.
Anonymous said…
Seems like it would be a lot cheaper and easier to just assign school grades based on average parent income, no? Probably just as meaningful, too.

mirmac1 said…
"15 of the 31 schools that received an "F" grade in 2011 were charter schools"

Let's see, grading on the curve that would give A's to the remaining sixteen charters! Wow! Gates and the silent (bare) majority was right!
Unknown said…

Maybe I didn't write what the article said very clearly. Of the 31 schools in Florida that received a grade of "F," 15 were charters. The other 16 schools that received a grade of "F" were regular public schools. Florida is the state that first introduced this same piece of legislation. I believe the reason that charter schools were originally excluded from this grading system in the proposed Senate bill was because charter schools did not do well under this grading system. Because the intent of most of this type of legislation is to underscore the "failure narrative" that the right wing likes to impose on the non-charter public school system, this particular unintended result proved just the opposite.
mirmac1 said…
You wrote it right Mary. Either I had too much wine or not enough coffee!
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