School Performance Grades: Helpful or Hurtful?

When I first learned that North Carolina was implementing School Performance Grades, I was skeptical.  I understood that there needed to be a way to assess the performance of schools, but I didn’t understand why we needed letter grades to do that.  I mean, couldn’t there just be a progress report of sorts that had detailed information about what the schools are doing well and what they need to improve?  As I learned more about School Performance Grades, I began to realize that they aren’t all bad, however some of my skepticism remains.

Now, I know that the majority of people, if not everybody, is familiar with the basic system of giving letter grades, A is best, F is worst.  However, I’d like to know more about why a school is given their particular grade. If a parent sees that the school around the corner has a C, but another a few miles away has an A, they’re going to want their child do go to the “A” school.  But does that parent really know the positives and negatives of each school?  More importantly, does that parent know his or her child’s learning style and the ways in which the teachers at each school teach?  When looking at a simple “A” or “C” letter grade, a parent may learn a little bit about an individual school, but I feel it’s important to delve deeper into figuring out just what exactly that school is doing to earn their letter grade.

A positive in regards to the letter grading system is that we can see growth within schools.  If a school is given a C one year, and the next they are given a B, we see that they have improved in some way.  These letter grades are a quick and easy way to measure quality and growth, but without really understanding what was done to earn the grade, the letter itself is useless.

My skepticism remains when I think about the School Performance Grades because I think that, depending on who gives these grades, they can be misinterpreted.  They can also be misinterpreted by parents who decide to put their child in an “A” school without doing further research.  This letter grading system is a fast way to learn how schools are doing, but without digging deeper and learning about the school, it’s practices, administrators, faculty, and staff, we do not really know how well a school is doing in comparison to another.

Kelly B.

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One Response to School Performance Grades: Helpful or Hurtful?

  1. jhelms94 says:

    I recently found out about school performance grades and spent a lot of time looking up schools I knew about or had heard of. I wasn’t surprised to find my high school with a C, and to find my boyfriend’s high school with an A. However I think these grades are kind of subject to what the individuals are looking to get out of these schools. For example, many of the students at my high school don’t end up going to college and getting professional careers, yet are farmers, mechanics, and other blue collar jobs. Therefore, my high school has a really good FFA program and agriculture department. My boyfriend’s high school is meant to prepare students for college and professional careers and received a grade of A because it does this really well. I think it’s a good thing and a bad thing. Bad because it dissuades parent’s from schools with lower ratings, but also good because it shows what exactly the school has to offer. I definitely agree they are misinterpreted, and probably unfairly graded. My skepticism remains as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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