No, Really This Time
Barring something completely unexpected, the State Board of Education will authorize the release of the A-F Report Cards this Thursday. The recent groundswell of protest allowed board members to see the reason to push the pause button, but three weeks later, the report cards are set to be released. With the release, schools will need to communicate with parents and the community. As I wrote last month, the SDE has provided districts with a sample letter. I have included it below, along with changes that I would suggest.
recently finally received its new letter grade from the State Department of Education as part of a statewide reform initiating an A-F School Grading System. This grade reflects several different factors, such as test results of all students, growth factors that compare test results from multiple years as well as growth in the 25 percent lowest performing students, and whole school performance factors such as attendance, graduation and dropout rates.
This grade reflects a snapshot of test scores and student growth measures – all of which have been put through complicated calculations to provide you with something ridiculously simplistic.
As parents or community members, you help to play a role in the grade our school receives. We are able to receive bonus points based on the number of school climate surveys we receive each year. You can assist by supporting and reinforcing the hard work needed by your student to learn the information taught in school. One way to do so is by volunteering in the school because we also receive bonus points based on the involvement of parents and community members in our school. As we look ahead to improving our letter grade in the future, we’ll be working with you on ways to increase these bonus points.
We appreciate that you want to know how our students are performing on state tests and other measures of achievement. We’ll be glad to talk to you about those any time. As for volunteering, we’d prefer to have you do it just because you know the value in contributing to the education of children. Bonus points aside, we’d love to have your help and commitment to helping every student here be successful.
Our letter grade is important for several reasons. Though it should be seen in light of a complete context and is one measure of our performance, it shows areas where we are doing well and it highlights areas where we need to improve.
Seriously, the essence of each child in this school cannot be explained in one test score – or even a series of them. Similarly, the value of this school cannot be explained with one capital letter. A high grade does not show you the areas that concern us. A low one shows you neither the struggles we face or the successes that we’ve worked hard for.
Perhaps more importantly, this new report card provides more straightforward information than performance ranking systems used in the past that were confusing and cumbersome for the average parent or community member to understand. The information provided in the report card is clear cut and is available to you online as well.
The new report card is anything but straightforward. For the first section – which is the simplest section – you take test scores and plug them into this formula: (A*1.2 + P*1.0 + LK*0.2 = U*0.0)/N. After that, it takes another 30 pages and 40 charts to explain it. I’ve put together a PowerPoint to share with patrons, but a Sominex will do just as well.
We hope you will view this grade as a way to become more involved in [our school]. As part of this new reform, State Superintendent Janet Barresi has launched Raise the Grade Together — an effort to help every school in the state improve and succeed.
The State Department of Education has offered all kinds of programs to help schools. In fact, there are so many that they are rarely on the same page. We’ll take the help that makes sense to us, but more importantly, we’re going to work as hard as ever to meet the individual needs of the children in this school. Whether it be a struggling reader or a student working above grade level in math, every student deserves the opportunity to pursue high academic achievement.
Help us raise the grade together by taking the mission of educating children as a community approach. Where you see weak areas in student achievement or attendance, help us to shore up those areas by offering mentoring assistance. As always, we need volunteers to help in a classroom or in the media center at our school. Attend school functions. Communicate with us about your child’s needs. Together we can strive for excellence in all areas of education. Together we can raise this grade.
Call us anytime. We’re always glad to answer your questions.