Letter grades indicating school quality may be delayed a year

Letter grades indicating school quality may be delayed a year

During the past few months, both superintendents in Williamson County had their concerns about a new A-F grading system to indicate the quality of schools.

With implementation of the new process now being called into question, districts might not have to worry about it for one more year.

“I’ve got to make sure they understand what I meant by delay,” Rep. Glen Casada said on Saturday morning. He and the other three legislators for Williamson County addressed the 12-member board.

“We have been working with the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents and delayed the A-F grading one year,” Casada said. “It gives heartache to many systems. We called all parties. We said there problems with the way you want to implement it.”

As written and passed by the legislature in 2016, new accountability standards that give letter grades to each school across the state should go into effect for 2017.

As designed by the Tennessee Department of Education, the new accountability standards derive from the Every Student Succeeds Act along with resolutions passed by the state legislature this past session. The state will give schools a letter grade from A to F, with each category broken down numerically to demonstrate where the state collected the grade.

Four guiding principles went into the consideration of forming the letter grade, with the opportunity for districts to earn an A in a number of ways.

Casada said he’s not sure that was the intent from the legislature, and he wanted to work with the education department to provide a better idea of what they expected. Elected officials also may have to come in and change state law, since the time stamp for when it should begin is written into the code.

“This is a disconnect between the legislative attempt and policy,” Superintendent Mike Looney said. “The model that’s being proposed is giving more weight to growth. What we see is our schools keep being penalized and we become C schools. But when you’re in the 99 percentile, you’re there. Give a letter grade for growth and achievement.”

Casada said he would talk to the education department as soon as Monday to ensure a delay of the system goes smoothly and as he anticipated.

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