Members of the House Education Committee advanced legislation  Tuesday that will give schools an A through F letter grade starting next year. The grading system was set to take effect this year, but sponsors of House Bill 435 want an additional year to allow schools to implement the Common Core standards .
Under the new bill, a school’s grade would be calculated based on a performance composite comprised of student test scores in a variety of subject areas. Other factors, such as workplace readiness and the percentage of students who graduate within four years of entering high school, would also be considered in the grading.
Rep. Deb McManus  voiced concerns that the legislation would punish low-wealth schools, as well as districts with a high percentage of non-English speaking students:
“I think we are already dealing with so many morale issues in these kinds of schools, and to give them a D or an F – we’re not going to be able to get teachers to go to those schools. And then I’m not sure what we are going to do for that population,” cautioned McManus. “You’re going to end up with your weakest teachers teaching your neediest students.”
Rep. Tricia Cotham  reminded her colleagues the A-F grading system was already in place. The House bill was intended to modify that law, giving schools an additional year to prepare for the assessments.
If HB435 does become law, it would take effect beginning with the 2013-2014 school year with the State Board of Education issuing the first annual report cards no earlier than August 1, 2014.
To hear lawmakers debate the School Performance Grades Act, click below: