Education

Bill to give academic growth, achievement equal weight marches forward

House Rules Committee discussed several K-12 education bills on Monday.

A bill to give academic growth and achievement equal weight when determining school performance grades continues to wind its way through the House.

HB 354 received a favorable report Monday in the House Rules Committee. It could make its way to the House floor by Wednesday.

Educators have long argued that growth should weigh heavily in school performance grades because it’s a more accurate reflection of what’s taking place in a classroom.

A favorable hearing on the House floor would send the bill to the Senate, where it could be shuffled through a series of committees.

Under the bill, student achievement and growth would be given equal weight – 50 percent each. The scores are used to help determine school performance grades.

Currently, proficiency or achievement accounts for 80 percent of a school’s performance score while growth makes up the other 20 percent.

Rep. Craig Horn, (R-Union), one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said he’s “pretty optimistic” that HB 354 will receive a favorable hearing in the Senate.

Horn thinks HB 362 establishing a 15-point scale for school performance grades also can win Senate approval.  (It also received a favorable report from the House Rules Committee.)

The 2013 law establishing school performance grades originally set a 10-point scale for school report cards. But that scale has never been used. A waiver has been granted each year to allow use of a 15-point scale.

“This bill takes what we’ve actually been doing and turns it into law,” Horn said.

House Bill 266, which would award schools two separate grades, one for growth and another for proficiency or student achievement, also received a favorable report from the Rules Committee.

Co-sponsored by Rep. Dennis Riddell, (R-Alamance), HB 266 would establish a 0-100 scale grade for achievement with a 15 point spread between grades. A second grade for growth would be based on a 0-50 point with a 10 point spread between grades.

Riddell said issuing two grades would give a clearer picture of what’s taking placing in North Carolina schools.

Other K-12 bills that received favorable reports from the Rules Committee on Tuesday are:

  • HB 276 — Under the bill, schools that receive a “D” or “F” letter grade would no longer carry the stigma of low-performing if the school meets growth targets.
  • HB 79 – The bill would all local Boards of Education to align their school calendars with local community colleges.
  • HB 295 – Would ban spanking and paddling in traditional public schools and charter schools.

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