Under the Dome

Senate approves keeping 15-point scale for A through F school grades

The state Senate gave its unanimous approval Thursday to a two-year extension of a more forgiving 15-point scale used to assign public schools A through F grades.

The change will likely keep hundreds of schools from dropping below the C grades they received based on last year’s test results. Many would fall to Ds or Fs this year if the state had stayed with a plan to begin using a 10-point grading scale.

Along the way to the final vote, Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to kill a proposal that would give more weight in the grading formula to student growth, or how much pupils learn year over year.

For elementary and middle schools, scores on standardized tests count for 80 percent of the grade, and growth counts for 20 percent. The state released the first grades in February. There was a high correlation between the wealth of students’ families and grades their schools received.

Democratic Sen. Josh Stein of Raleigh said changing the formula to make growth 50 percent of the grade would more accurately reflect the hard work that teachers and principals at low-wealth schools are doing.

Eighty-six schools that received Ds or Fs met or exceeded growth expectations, Stein said, while 45 schools receiving As or Bs did not meet growth.

Changing the formula would mean that 85 of the 86 schools would move up a grade or two, he said, better reflecting the good work at those schools.

The move to kill the proposal meant it received no debate or vote. Senate Republicans have said since February that they want to keep the formula as it is for at least a few more years.

The House has already approved the bill, and it now heads to Gov. Pat McCrory.

Bonner: 919-829-4821;

Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner