Hundreds of schools each year would avoid the stigma of being labeled by the state as low-performing under a bill unanimously approved by the state House on Wednesday.
House Bill 826 changes the definition of low-performing schools to exclude schools with D and F performance grades that met growth targets on state exams. Supporters said the change gives a more realistic and fair view of how North Carolina schools are performing.
“Rather than putting schools that are meeting growth in with the low-performing definition of a host of other schools, this bill simply strikes that and lets them stand in a little bit better status,” Rep. Dennis Riddell, an Alamance County Republican and one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said at Tuesday’s House Education Committee meeting.
If the definition had been used this past school year, 242 fewer schools would have been listed as low performing.
The bill passed 120-0. It now goes to the Senate.
Low-performing schools are required to send notices to parents and develop plans for trying to improve performance. The most low-performing schools could be included in a pilot program that allows charter-school operators to take them over.
North Carolina schools used to be considered low-performing if fewer than half the students were passing state exams and the schools weren’t meeting expected academic growth. But state lawmakers changed the definition in 2015 to say that schools with D or F performance grades would be considered low-performing unless they exceeded growth expectations.
Supporters of the change said it streamlined the process of identifying low-performing schools, but critics said it labeled schools using a flawed measurement system.
Each school’s letter grade is calculated from student test scores, which account for 80 percent of the letter grade, and the measured growth of students. The growth component – which tracks improvement of students – makes up 20 percent of each school’s grade.