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Mapping North Carolina’s A-F school grades

Policy analysts at a research conference in Colorado got a real shock last week when presented with maps that portray how North Carolina’s A-F school grades would have changed if the state moved quickly from a 15 point grading scale to a 10 point scale , as the law originally intended, reports EdNC.

With a stricter scale in place, the maps clearly show how a good chunk of North Carolina’s schools shift from As, Bs and Cs to Ds and Fs.

15 point scale:

15pt

10 point scale:

10pt

Keep in mind that eighty percent of a school grade is based on students’ performance on standardized tests and 20 percent is based on their improvement on those tests over time.

That formula, along with the expected quick shift to a stricter 10 point grading scale, had rankled many educators, advocates and other stakeholders who claimed that by and large, these grades don’t measure much more than how many poor, under resourced students attend a school.

Hearing these concerns, lawmakers passed a bill to extend the 15 point grading scale two more years.

“It’s a simple way to get consistency over a three year period,” said Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, a sponsor of the bill.

It’s also a way to avoid the likely scenario that a whole lot more schools would receive Ds and Fs by moving to the stricter scale right off the bat.

What Elmore’s bill doesn’t address, however, is the fact that the school grades are heavily weighted toward student achievement rather than how well a school does helping students along on those tests over time.

Several lawmakers have (so far) unsuccessfully pushed for making the school grades more heavily weighted toward growth, which they say would be a fairer representation of how well a school is helping students academically.

An interactive map commissioned by EdNC and developed by the Friday Institute’s Emily Antosyk allows you to see how the school grades would look with an A-F grading formula that is more heavily weighted toward student growth. Check it out here.

And for more background on A-F school grades in North Carolina, click herehere and here.

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