We’re doing this because of a bill sponsored and passed in 2012 by Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur. And we’re doing it in spite of mounting evidence that such systems are of little value..
We’ve already had a number of committee meetings trying to determine how you accurately come up with a single letter grade that honestly represents all that happens in a school.
Now we are launching a series of work sessions around the state later this month to keep on hashing this over. Meetings will be held in Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Mobile and Wetumpka. So we are spending more time and more money just to please a politician.
Oklahoma launched an A-F system several years ago. And even the Republican state superintendent of education there, Joy Hofmeister, says it is “not valid or reliable, not meaningful, not useful.” You can listen to her on this news broadcast from KFOR in Oklahoma city.
Oklahoma educator Rob Miller tells the story of Howe Public Schools in eastern Oklahoma, a small rural system often cited for its successes. In fact, then state superintendent Janet Barresi visited Howe in early 2013. She told the state board of education that, “Howe is truly at the forefront of the most dynamic learning in the state. Howe students are going to be the leading entrepreneurs of the future. All schools in Oklahoma can achieve this same level of innovation.”
When A-F grades were released that fall, Howe received an F.
Why are we going through this senseless exercise if not for the simple reason of trying once again to convince the public that we have an abundance of bad schools. Find me a single school superintendent in the state who thinks this will benefit their schools or their students and I will write you a check for $100.
Besides, we are already claiming that the bottom six percent of all public schools are failing because that’s what the Alabama Accountability Act dictates. So all we are really doing is piling on.
And here’s the kicker. While the accountability act identifies schools as “failing,” it makes absolutely no accommodation to help them. Same is true of the A-F bill. We are supposed to give financial rewards to high performing schools, but not lift a finger to help those obviously struggling.
Long ago I learned something that went about like this, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But apparently that does not include kids in our public schools.