New Decatur Superintendent Troubled By A-F School Report Cards

Dan Brigman took over as Decatur city school superintendent last summer.  He was superintendent of Catawba County, NC schools before coming to north Alabama.

Earlier this week he spoke out forcefully about the new A-F school report cards that will soon be launched in Alabama.  Since North Carolina started handing out A-F grades in 2013-14, he speaks with first-hand knowledge.

Here are some of his comments from a public meeting covered by the Decatur Daily newspaper.  Go here for the entire article.

“Decatur City Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman challenged state lawmakers to explain the purpose of a 2012 law that will assign letter grades to public schools sometime this year.

“I have three questions,” he said about the law during his first State of Decatur City Schools address as superintendent.

He asked lawmakers to explain if a letter grade is a true indication of everything happening in schools and if lawmakers understand the economic ramifications of putting grades on school districts.

Brigman also questioned whether lawmakers are building the grading systems “while in flight,” because it’s not clear to local schools how grades will be earned.
Brigman said the state has to get away from sanctions — such as issuing letter grades — and get to resources. He said the focus should be on finding money to help schools correct areas where students may not be performing well.”
As pointed out a few days ago, the A-F legislation is the brainchild of Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur.  She took issue with superintendent Brigman’s comments claiming that a task force worked for four years to come up with a grading system.  Unfortunately, she is stretching the truth quite a bit as a member of the original committee working on this issue told me they have not met in at least two years.
It might also be good if she continued her research.  For instance, she would find that after agreeing to use A-F school grade report cards in 2013, the state of Virginia repealed this law in 2015 after realizing it served no useful purpose.
Or she might take note of a legislative briefing from the Florida Association of District School Supervisors that states:

“The school grading system has changed multiple times over the past few years, including 34 changes in 2011-2012 alone. The culmination of these changes have had a significant impact on Florida’s accountability system and today many Floridians lack confidence in the assessments and school grades as a precise measure of a school’s performance.

The public does not understand a system that celebrates student performance on national assessments, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), and statewide end-of-course exams; while the school grading system yields an unprecedented number of

schools with grades of “D” or “F” and significant drops overall in school grades.

The school grading system must be simplified and recognize student performance in a way that is easily understood by the public, parents, and students. To move Florida’s accountability system forward, we need to pause and revamp the accountability system in order to regain the trust of the public and the students we serve.”

 

 

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