H.T. Conner: Grading schools

January 25, 2013 

Grading schools

Regarding the Jan. 11 article on assigning performance grades to schools, I agree with the process as long as it is done in a valid and fair way. However, if grades are based solely on the percentage of students graduating or passing a reading test, the system would not be valid.

Schools that enroll students whose parents have high incomes and advanced education will receive As and Bs, and the schools that serve students with parents who have low incomes and educational levels will be assigned C, D and F grades. Believe it or not, the schools with the low grades could be performing better than the A and B schools if performance is adjusted for measures of potential or socioeconomic factors.

Developing a workable procedure for schools to be assigned grades is a piece of cake. Using student measures of learning potential such as family income and education level of parents, formulas to calculate expected performance levels can be determined to indicate whether schools are achieving below, at or above their potential.

Such a grading system might encourage our schools to do a better job with gifted students. When measuring their achievement in relationship to their learning potential, they are the greatest underachievers.

H.T. Conner

Former assistant superintendent for Planning, Research and Development, N.C. Department of Public Instruction

Raleigh

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