This week the state department of education released letter grades for all traditional public schools and public charter schools in the state, the letter grades are deceptive and create false pictures for better or worse of the programs at the schools graded.
The letter grades are assigned to schools based mostly on the results of test given to students in the spring of each school year.
Whether a school can be considered a failing school based almost entirely on test performance is the subject of considerable debate across the state.
Because teachers and schools will be given letter grades based on test performance alone nearly most schools and teachers have regrouped to do what it takes to get a high score, even if it means dumping instruction students need to live.
For example, since handwriting is not required to past the test, very few elementary schools teach it beyond the third grade and it is not required at all in middle schools and high schools.
If one school gets an A rating and not one child can read or write cursive, is it really an A?
Or has the school successfully taught only those skills which matter for the test? If one school emphasizes business and practical math and everyone learns their timetables, and percentages and practical every day math, but don’t do well on Common Core Math that they will never use, is that school a failing school?
If a School such as Vision Academy successfully gets students who have given up on school and dropped out to try again and manages to get a dozen or more of them to graduate every year, should that school be labeled a failing school?
The here is that real life factors are often not measures of a school letter grade. Even the best letter grade only reflects the school’s focus on what will be tested at the neglect of other factors.
As we review school letter grades we should not quickly assume that A schools are better than F schools. Especially, if most students at the A school aren’t able to read a handwritten cursive letter.
The grade represents only what has been tested. High performing schools often only teach what is to be tested. That’s not their problem, it’s the state’s problem for giving letter grades in the first place.