The big news out of Louisiana that the State Ed Board (BESE) accepted Superintendent Pastorek’s plan for local control and continued governance by the New Orleans Recovery School District overshadowed another very big victory for Supt. Pastorek. During the same meeting, BESE also set standards for schools to earn letter grades based on their annual School Performance Scores.  This policy comes from legislation that was passed with the intent of giving parents and others a clearer measure of how a school is performing.

Under the new system, a top-performing school with a School Performance Score (SPS) of 120 or above will earnan “A” while schools that have an SPS below 65 will receive an “F.” Schools that meet their growth target will earn a plus (+) sign after their letter grade. However if a school declines from one year to the next, the letter grade will be followed by a minus (-) sign.  Here is chart outlining the grades:.

Letter Grade

SPS Range (2010-2011)

SPS Range (2011-2012)

A

120.0 – 200.0

120.0 – 200.0

B

105.0 – 119.9

105.0 – 119.9

C

90.0 – 104.9

90.0 – 104.9

D

65.0 – 89.9

75.0 – 89.9

F

0 – 64.9

0 – 74.9


This shift to easily understood letter grading is one of the basic reforms that Florida adopted under Gov. Jeb Bush.  He has been encouraging other states to follow this lead, and actively campaigned for the A – F grading scale during the recent elections.  With 29 new Governors taking charge in 2011 — the most new governors in our nation’s history according to the NGA — and most of them staring into a revenue abyss, this reform that may prove itself popular for the low cost/no cost pricetag that it carries.

Combine the A-F grading scale with new parent trigger legislation now at work in California, and parents who thought their local school were doing OK may find that they have the knowledge and power to make changes for the better.

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