The New York City teachers’ union has proposed that the city education department base its school grades on a broader definition of academic success.
In a March 13 speech to a civic group, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called for major changes in the city’s controversial, 4-month-old practice of assigning letter grades to its 1,400 schools. (“N.Y.C. District Issues ‘Value Added’ Grades for Schools,” Nov. 14, 2007.)
She proposed that schools receive separate grades in four areas. The academic-achievement area would be based on standardized-test performance and progress, and on the quality of a school’s curriculum. Currently, more than half of a school’s grade is based on how much children’s test scores improve over time.
Under the UFT’s proposal, schools would also be evaluated on their safety and discipline and their staff teamwork. Also considered would be how much funding and oversight they receive from the city department of education, a factor Ms. Weingarten said suggests that “accountability is a two-way street.”
The grading system, unveiled in November, has sparked questions about how accurately it gauges school quality.
A spokesman for the department of education said it would adopt some of the union’s criteria, but that accountability’s focus must be on student achievement.
A version of this article appeared in the March 19, 2008 edition of Education Week