The State Board of Education approved school A-F grades for the 2015-2016 school year Tuesday. It reports a sharp decline in the number of schools receiving As and higher numbers receiving Bs or Cs.
A-F grades are mainly calculated using ISTEP+ scores, but this is the first year the grades were calculated with a new formula. The new formula prioritizes student growth on the test, rather than whether a student passed the test.
The grades released today show fewer As, much more Bs and Cs, and slightly higher Ds and Fs. But Ritz says this new system is more fair for schools with low ISTEP+ passing rates.
“So I don’t believe the system actually makes it harder or easier for any school,” Ritz says. “I think we have a total emphasis now on the growth of every child, no matter where the child performs.”
Tuesday was Ritz’s last meeting as state superintendent, and Superintendent-elect Jennifer McCormick will chair the next meeting in January. McCormick says looking to the future of A-F grades, she wants to take advantage of any changes allowed under the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“With ESSA, we have an opportunity to move forward with that and maybe take a deeper dive to help us,” says McCormick. “We’ll take advantage of that and see what ESSA brings and allows.”
Last year, the SBOE voted to change how they awarded A-F grades, after ISTEP+ scores across the state dropped dramatically. They awarded schools the higher grade between the 2014 and 2015 calculation, which may be why we’re seeing more Ds and Fs this year.
Schools have 30 days to appeal their grades. After all appeals are settled, the DOE will release A-F grades for districts.
Having trouble seeing the database? Click here.