I have been worrying about the grade my youngest son's school would receive for weeks. And, on Thursday, Feb. 5, a date that was marked on my calendar, the first thing I did when the grades were released was type in Moore Square Middle School.
The grade wasn't a surprise. I knew from the test scores last year that the school would likely get a D or an F. It got a D.
But we won't leave Moore Square because of the grade. And I would send my son there again.
As you consider your school's grade, I encourage you to do so relative to how your child is doing at the school. My son loves his school. He loves his friends. He loves his classes and his teachers. For me, those things put the D in perspective.
During national school choice week, we heard a lot about "fit." Fit, when it comes to schools, is important to parents. Moore Square is a perfect fit for my child. My oldest son attends Cary Academy, a private school, and it is a perfect fit for him.
My youngest son chose Moore Square, and he is invested in his decision. Moore Square is a small school relative to other middle schools in Wake County - and having that option has been important for my son.
My son can walk to school, and the ability to do so has instilled him with a sense of place and love for downtown Raleigh. In a poem he wrote for school in the sixth grade, he said,
"I am a child of this city,
I can walk everywhere I need to go - school, the YMCA, home -
Everything I need is here within these downtown blocks."
He has access to a course of study that works for him. He has access to excellent teachers, including two Kenan Fellows.
He adores his art teacher. He appreciates that he has been able to continue learning Mandarin Chinese, which he has taken since kindergarten. He enjoys electives like genetics, oceanography and technology design and innovation.
My son has a principal he likes and respects. The principal is a role model for him.
He has developed close friendships with students he did not know before middle school.
His grades and test scores exceed my expectations.
Performance and growth matter. But I encourage parents who send their children to schools that receive low letter grades to circle in. Invest your time, energy and resources in the school so that every child has access to a high-quality education, as measured by a wide variety of criteria determined not just by policymakers but by students, teachers, administrators and parents themselves.
If your child is not doing well at Moore Square or any other school, that is a problem. But flight from these schools just because of the letter grade is not the answer.
Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.