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Bryant Signs School Letter Grade Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 23 May 2012 05:24pm | comments
Gov. Bryant signs a law changing the grading system.

How would you grade your child's School? This fall Mississippi officials will assign a letter grade based on a school's performance. M-P-B's Jeffrey Hess reports Governor Phil Bryant signed the new labels into law at a signing ceremony yesterday.

When it takes effect July first, schools will no longer be rated star or high-performing...that will be replaced with a new letter grading system.

Before signing the bill, Governor Bryant described it as a move toward clarity in complex rating system.

"When you go into that school system, you will know if this is an 'A' school if this if where you want your children to be. Or if this is a 'D' or an 'F' system, then we need to find out how to make that school better," Bryant said.

This bill does not change accountability measures that lead to the grade.

Schools will be ready with the new labels this fall according toPete Smith with the Mississippi Department of Education.

Smith also says this could be a first step toward a more comprehensive in grading schools.

"With Common Core state standards coming on line, at that time, the accountability should be reviewed. And possibly the entire accountability model will be addressed at that time," Smith said.

The move to letter grading has been a trend across many states such as Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona which transitioned last fall.

"No one has ever said, 'gee can we go back to the way we used to do it',"

That's Rebecca Gau from the Office of Arizona governor Jan Brewer.

Gau says many Arizona parents were surprised by the gap in their perception of the school when they switched from the old five tiered word grade to the new letter grade.

"To show parents that just because a school is 'performing', they are just adequate. They are not necessarily doing the best for your kids. They are average. They are a 'C'. And just that made a big difference," Gau said.

Gau says the change also had an impact on law makers whom she says have found it easier to loosen the reins on 'A' and 'B' schools and tighten restrictions on the schools rated 'C' and lower.

Under the new rating system 139 of Mississippi nearly 900 schools will fall in the 'F' category.

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Gov. Bryant signs a law changing the grading system.


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