More info on school grading system

Over the next few days you will start to receive information about the A-F school grading system, which will be released soon. I will be sharing some of the data with you, and more explanation of how the grading system works. We’ll also be scheduling webinars with superintendents to explain the system and how we plan to unveil it.

Our goal is to give you as much information as possible so that when the grades are released publicly you will be prepared to speak about them with your school communities. You should know that our desire is not to make the letter grades a cause for shame, but rather an opportunity for transparency with parents and communities, and a basis for targeted supports to underperforming schools. As one superintendent recently said, most people will not be surprised by the scores. The question is, how do we work together to improve all schools, and especially those that are struggling. By working together, I am confident we will make great strides.

You might also be interested to read Preparing for A-F grading system.

11 responses to “More info on school grading system

  1. Well said Dianne!

  2. This message is in response to the DOE’s plan to grade public schools. After reading your recent notices and viewing yesterday’s webinar on the subject, I have serious concerns that the department’s stated purpose is a ruse and that the plan for reporting school “grades” is seriously flawed.

    Since you have been the Commissioner, you have championed standards-based education, based largely on the work of Bea McGarvey. The department’s plan to grade schools with A-F and using the bell curve to establish initial grades are both contrary to what is currently seen as best practice. What is best practice for students is apparently not best practice for schools.

    I was astounded during yesterday’s webinar when participants were told that the DOE would “never say” that schools are failing; no, but you will assign schools a grade of “F” because the public “understands” letter grades. The DOE also says that a goal is to encourage the public to dig deeper into the data to see the larger picture…. REALLY? Do you really think that this is likely to happen? Based on years of experience, I believe that only a very small percentage of parents or community members would ever expand their understanding of schools by digging deeper into online data.

    I firmly believe that the unstated goal in establishing this plan to grade schools is both punitive and political. I am disappointed.

    • I came to this site prepared to argue the flaws with this model of school assessment, but I couldn’t say it as eloquently as Diane. This plan is not an “evolution” in education, but a throwback. Assessments of schools should be meaningful and not cause for shame.

  3. Students receive separate grades for each academic course, not an overall grade for their achievements or lack thereof. Will schools receive separate grades for different criteria, such as condition of the physical plant, the number of students who go on to post-graduate education, student scores on standardized tests, number of teahcers with advanced degrees, etc? This report card should make clear to administrators, teachers, students, and taxpayers what their schools are doing well and what needs improving. Based on the governor’s rhetoric, I would be inclined to believe that this grading system is an attempt to prove that his opinion of Maine’s public schools is correct.

  4. Penny Christie

    I don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish by grading schools using letter grades. The three previous comments are absolutely correct in their predictions. There is already so much negativity around our public schools, and this system is only going to add to that negativity. If certain school districts struggle in specific areas, wouldn’t our time and money be better spent looking at how to help those schools? Help comes through looking at what works in Maine and modeling those successful, research-based strategies. What child or parent is going to feel good or proud of going to a school that receives a failing grade? There are amazing students attending all schools in Maine. There are also amazing teachers that work in all schools in Maine. I’m not saying that all students or all parents, or all teachers try their hardest all the time, but I don’t think that labeling them with a grade will motivate them to do their best. Motivation comes from seeing purpose and feeling good about what you are doing. I don’t believe this grading system will accomplish this. I happen to live in a district that probably won’t get a very good grade, but I have a daughter who is a high achiever. Why should she be ashamed of where she goes to school? She should feel proud of her High Achievement awards. She shouldn’t have to listen to others invalidate her achievements because of where she earned them.

  5. Commissioner Bowen has just written: “By working together, I am confident we will make great strides.”

    I just read and heard Governor Paul Lepage speaking to a group in Skowhegan on May 17th and found in Mike Tippings” Blog in the Bangor Daily News. ” If you think I’ve caused trouble lately, you wait in the next couple of weeks when the grades on all schools come
    out. I guarantee you will see the most vicious education campaign ads that you have ever seen in your life, because I am going to be the next Scott Walker in this country.”

    This does not sound like working together to me. Neither will it make great strides in education.

  6. Frankly this is nothing more than a conduit to encourage parents to abandon their local schools and embrace charters. The fact they are using the A-F grading system solidifies this, since most of the public can and does identify with the A-F grading system rather that the standards based system the DOE wants implemented.

  7. I though it was ironic as well that this system is not aligned with the Strategic Plan. The DOE is emphasizing the need for transforming the traditional school structure, yet is adopting a very traditional approach. I think unfortunately it is going to be a letter of “shame” because I am not expecting that our DOE will be providing resources to help schools to work through a reformation process. I am also quite concerned that they seem to be focusing heavily on the lower 25% for growth, at the expense of also emphasizing the need for growth among our highest ability students, which so often get ignored in our school system and where growth is sometimes hardest to achieve.

  8. The “A-F” grading model does not appear to support the goals and vision of the DOE’s Strategic Plan – “Education Evolving.” Shouldn’t DOE model what we want our schools to become?

  9. This is a negative plan that will create more issues in school for our students, parents, staff, and towns. We are asked to go away from traditional grading by the department of education, but they are using the traditional grading system to track schools. Two sides of the mouth it appears.

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