LAURINBURG — State legislators are working on a bill that would modify how school performance grades are calculated.
Under the current mandate from the North Carolina General Assembly, 80 percent of a school’s grade is determined by its school achievement score and 20 percent on school growth. Based on those scores schools are assigned “A-F” letter grades with each district being given a performance score and a letter grade.
Senate Bill 149 would adjust how those grades are handed down, making growth as important as the school achievement score by using a 50/50 ratio.
State Rep. Ken Goodman, who represents Scotland, Richmond and Hoke counties, said legislators want grades to be based more on how students are progressing rather than their score on a single standardized test.
“The testing that is done in the schools has had a component that is 80 percent performance, that’s 80 percent of the test is just your actual hard grade and 20 percent is based on growth,” Goodman told WLNC. “One of the arguments people have made and rightly so, I think, is a teacher who is teaching low kids and moves those kids from very low to better may have done a better job than a teacher who has kids that are already proficient and just make the high score. We changed the formula to 50/50 — 50 percent performance and 50 percent growth — and I think most of our educators will be very pleased with that.”
The bill also states that “for schools that receive a letter grade of ‘B’ or lower, if the school has exceeded growth, the State Board shall assign a performance grade one letter grade higher than the school performance grade determined…”
Seven Scotland County schools met expectations; one school exceeded them and three failed to meet expectations, according to the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction report cards that were released last Aug. The grades were based on the 2015-16 school year.
Scotland Early College High School was the only school in county to receive an “A” and to exceed expectations. South Scotland and Laurel Hill elementary schools both received a “B” and met expectations.
Covington, North Laurinburg, Scotland High School, Spring Hill, Wagram and Sycamore Lane all received a “C” with four meeting expectations and two failing to meet expectations. The two schools that failed to meet expectations were Scotland High School, Sycamore Lane and Carver Middle School, which received a “D.”
Despite meeting expectations, I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School also received a “D” and was placed on an improvement plan with Carver.
A task force has been formed within the Department of Public Instruction to study the current grading system calculations and grade distribution. According to the bill, the task force will also look into how grades can more accurately reflect the overall performance of a school based on the number of accelerated classes the school offers, points for advanced placement courses, graduation rate, at-risk graduation rate and scores of students taking the SAT and ACT.
Results from the task force will be brought back to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by Dec. 15, 2017. If the results from the study show a change should be made in the grading scale it will take effect starting with the 2017-18 school year.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.