RALEIGH — There is some confusion about a recently filed bill which changes the way schools are graded.
First, a bit about what this system is about.
The factors that go into the A-F school scores include weighted calculations of students achievement and school growth. One is student grade-level proficiency, the other is growth.
Critics of this scoring system say the rankings only look at the achievement levels and that it unfairly judges and stigmatizes schools with a high number of minority students or students living in poverty.
The bulk of a school’s grade, 80 percent, comes mainly from the level of overall grade-level proficiency by its students on the state’s standardized end-of-grade tests (EOG) and end-of-course tests (EOC). The graduation rate and college/workplace readiness measures may also play a factor depending on applicability.
Growth is weighted at 20 percent using the state’s statistical model system known as the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS). What EVAAS does is compare a student’s predicted test score to the student’s actual test result.
There are currently five school performance grade levels, A through F, in state statute and each corresponds to a number:
(1) A school performance score of at least 90 is equivalent to an overall school performance grade of A.
(2) A school performance score of at least 80 is equivalent to an overall school performance grade of B.
(3) A school performance score of at least 70 is equivalent to an overall school performance grade of C.
(4) A school performance score of at least 60 is equivalent to an overall school performance grade of D.
(5) A school performance score of fewer than 60 points is equivalent to an overall school performance grade of F.
House Bill 145 seeks to drop the number scores by increasing increments of 5 and maxing out at 20 points. This would make what was supposed to be a temporary change (in 2015) into a permanent one.
A school getting an A would need to score only 85 and up, a B would now be at least 70, C would be at least 55, D would be 40 and any school scoring under 40 would be an F.
Without question, the shift gives schools who are failing more room to be ranked as passing.
Keep in mind that the most recent school grade report put around 22 percent of North Carolina’s 2,537 schools at a D or F, and that less than half of all students in grades 3 through 8 were scored as grade-level proficient in state tests in reading and math.
Parents can look up their child’s school and consider what House Bill 145 will do to that score. For example, a middle school scoring 70 and has a C would be ranked a B.
This action in this bill is similar to past changes in student proficiency scores.
Originally, North Carolina students were ranked on a 1-4 scale. That was changed to a 5-point scale, and the level a student was considered grade-level proficient was designated as being 3 and up.
The idea to shift the student proficiency levels to a wider scale came a year after the implementation of Common Core following poor test scores.
Many critics argued the student grading shift was an attempt to mask the failure of Common Core.
On the other side of the coin, while House Bill 145’s shift would allow more public schools to appear to be passing, it could also serve to further highlight the achievement levels of high-performing schools.