Sometimes it is just too easy to look at something and simply dismiss it as “only in Alabama.” You know like when something makes absolutely no sense, but we do it just the same. A great big “Bless Your Heart” for the four million souls who live here. Sorta, kinda like the laws of Nature don’t apply here.
How else do you explain this?
Nearly six years ago (March, 2012) our legislature used its infinite wisdom to pass a law saying that all public schools in the state should be assigned a letter grade of A, B, C, D, F.
It was bogus from the get-go. All you had to do was read the second paragraph of the bill which sprinkled some fairy dust and expected the public to accept it as fact.
“Section 1. (a) Just as there is value in assigning grades that reflect the performance of public school students in Alabama, the Legislature finds that there is also value in assigning grades that reflect the performance of the public schools attended by public school students in Alabama. The Legislature further finds that an easy to understand school grading system would best serve the interests of the public as a whole, and specifically the parents and guardians of public school students, by providing another transparent layer of accountability for the public dollars allocated to elementary and secondary education in the state.”
I have been looking at the A-F issue for nearly six years now. If there is an iota of truth to this statement, it is obviously locked in a vault with the formula for Coca-Cola.
But as sometimes happens with bad dreams, this one is about to become true. Though it has been vilified by educators for many months because of countless shortcomings, grades for schools are to be made public on Jan. 11, 2018.
And to a large degree data being used for calculate grades is coming from the ACT Aspire, a test that the U.S. Department of Education says is not aligned with what students in Alabama are taught.
No. this is not a joke. (Except on the educators and students involved with Alabama public schools.)
Now the education community is scrambling to come up with a plan to defend what they fear may come to light. EVERY educator I’ve spoken with does not believe the new report cards will accurately reflect what is going on in their schools.
Reality is that we Americans are fixated on rankings. (Is there a single male over 18 in this state who does not know that the University of Alabama football team is ranked in the top four nationally and therefore will be in the national championship playoff?)
And when a mama, a mayor, or a public school naysayer sees that a school is graded as a C, any explanation as to the shortcomings of the ranking system will largely fall on deaf ears. That’s like expecting a fan of Ohio State University to go to Tuscaloosa and convince folks that their school–not Bama–should be in the playoffs.
But here is what no one talks about. We’ve known since March 2012 that this bill was law. But has there been any effort on the part of anyone in education to mount an effort to repeal it?
Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature passed an A-F school grading system in 2013. This was repealed in 2015. The bill to repeal was by Republican Senator Dick Black, one of the bodies most conservative members. He was a Marine helicopter pilot in Viet Nam and told me via email that while he was initially intrigued by the idea he quickly realized that it would have unintended consequences that could have a negative impact on an already struggling school. “Teachers will not want to teach at an F rated school,” he said.
Yep. Bless your heart is in order.
(For other articles about A-F, go to the menu on the right side of the blog home page and click on that heading.)