If a special taping of NC SPIN is any indication, there could be broad support for revising how the state’s new A through F school performance grades are calculated for every public school.
Panelists at the live taping of the syndicated television show, done at Wednesday’s Public School Forum of North Carolina’s “Eggs & Issues Breakfast,” said they can support changes that would likely result in schools getting higher grades. At issue is how much to base the grades on the passing rates on state exams as opposed to growth, which measures how much progress students are making even if they’re not passing.
The current model mandated by the General Assembly calls for the grade to be based 80 percent on passing rates and 20 percent on growth. Based on the weighting and how much passing rates dropped after new state exams were introduced in 2013, many schools are expected to have poor marks when the grades are released Feb. 5.
During the taping, state Rep. Craig Horn said the intent of the new grading system is “to make it clear to a parents – people who are moving into a community – how well their schools are performing.” Horn, a Weddington Republican and a leader of education and education budget committees, said he doesn’t necessarily agree with how the system was set up but agrees with the concept.
But Horn said he’d support making adjustments to “go to more of a 50-50 split at about a 10-point break.”
Similar statements were made from the other panelists who range across the political spectrum.
Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of the progressive N.C. Policy Watch, said the formula needs to be based much more on growth so “teachers would not be punished or rewarded based on which children walk through the door.” He said the split should be at least 50 percent growth.
John Hood, chairman of the board of the conservative John Locke Foundation, said “the 80-20 percent split is debatable and probably unwise, and we should change it.” Hood drew laughter from the crowd when he said “50-50 suits my moderate temperment.”
Other topics discussed during the taping include teacher pay, charter schools, virtual schools, the replacement of the Common Core standards and vouchers for private schools. Tom Campbell, the host of NC SPIN, said the show will tentatively be aired Feb. 15.