Letter grades lend clarity to evaluation of schools

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, March 18, 2012

Students get letter grades. Why shouldn’t schools and school districts?

     A bill that passed the Senate earlier this week would modify the state’s current system of evaluating schools and school districts. The measure is awaiting House of Representatives consideration.

     Currently, Mississippi uses a system that ranks schools and districts from star, the highest mark, to failing, the lowest. In between are high performing, successful, academic watch, and at risk of failing.

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     While not changing the evaluation protocols, the Senate bill would compress the rankings into six letter grades: A, B, C, D, D- and F. The legislation calls for the state Board of Education to convert the current system to the new grading scale, effective with the 2012-13 school year.

     The main benefit, supporters contend, is simplicity of understanding for parents and others with an interest in education. While it may be hard for parents to get a good definition of a “successful” school, having a school or district get a “C” on the Mississippi Report Card would certainly provide some clarification.

     Providing a letter grade, instead of some vaguely defined phrase or terminology, would help remove any potential ambiguity over school rankings and could encourage more parents to get involved in making sure their children are getting the best education possible.

     So let’s call an “A” an “A” and an “F” an “F” – and everything in between – at least we’ll know what kind of report card our school district is bringing home.