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District Leaders Protest State A-F Grading Mandates for Schools

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District administrators in Alabama and Texas are protesting the A-F report cards mandated by their state legislatures, which force the states' education departments to evaluate their schools and school districts with letter grades. Data released by both states show perceivably high-performing suburban school districts—along with traditionally low-performing districts—receiving D's and F's on this year's report cards that are heavily based on last year's standardized tests.

Proponents say the use of such ratings is an easy way for parents to grasp the quality of schools. But opponents say the approach is simplistic and vulnerable to data mishaps.

In Texas, the education department on Friday released a provisional ratings report card—ratings that district officials already are calling flawed.

The state association of school administrators sent around a petition calling for its repeal; by midweek, more than 142 local school boards had adopted resolutions opposing the report card.

Officials with the Alabama education department, meanwhile, are in a spat with the local press over this year's report card, which the state is legally required to have published, but which education officials don't agree with philosophically. The department released a report card shortly before the holidays. Much like their colleagues in Texas, Alabama's district administrators say the grades don't accurately reflect their districts' performance.

Recently appointed Alabama state Superintendent Michael Sentance told that he doesn't agree with letter grades for school districts because he's seen the destructive impact such grades have had on the reputation of public schools in other states.

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states redesign and more frequently publish their state report cards, but it doesn't specify a particular format, such as A-F letter grades.

Vol. 36, Issue 17, Page 4

Published in Print: January 11, 2017, as District Leaders Protest State A-F Grading Mandates for Schools
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