A-F Letter Grading Begins Hearings in House Education Reform

Mitch Albers

By Mitch Albers, MASB Assistant Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, Feb. 14, 2018

Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw) introduced House Bill 5526, and brought it up for a hearing in House Education Reform last week. The bill would create an Education Accountability Policy Commission to develop a school grading system that assigns each public school in Michigan a letter grade between A and F. Rep. Kelly stated he intends to have multiple hearings before trying to bring the legislation up for a vote.

Under the legislation, the Michigan Department of Education will give letter grades to public schools for each of six specified categories. The categories include:

  • student proficiency in math and English language arts;
  • the percentage of all students who achieve adequate growth in math and ELA;
  • student growth from fall to spring of the same school year or spring to spring from one school year to another;
  • students who score proficient on the immediately preceding applicable state assessment and maintain at least proficient on the state assessment; and
  • students who scored less than proficient on the immediately preceding state assessment and demonstrates growth sufficient to reach proficient in three school years.

The bill will also create an Education Accountability Commission. The Commission will develop standards for identifying the lowest achieving public schools as comprehensive support and improvement schools, and the number of schools identified as comprehensive support and improvement schools cannot exceed 5% of all public schools in Michigan. The Commission will also create standards for identifying high-achieving public schools as reward schools.

The legislation also requires MDE to rank each public school beginning Sept. 1, 2019. There would be five categories, ranging from significantly above average to significantly below average compared to comparable schools and its student subgroup performance in relation to the same subgroup statewide.

This proposal comes out on the heels of the release of the State Board of Education’s Parent Dashboard for School Transparency, which provides information on districts based on percentages and in comparison to state averages as well as to similar districts. The dashboard also breaks down data based on race, gender and socioeconomic status, and provides comparisons within those groups to similar districts.

Over the course of the hearing process, numerous changes will likely be proposed and adopted. MASB is encouraged to not see this legislation include a summative grade, however, we still have some concerns with certain aspects of the proposal. We would like to see rural schools and school boards represented on the commission along with the administrators and urban schools that are already listed. Also, the proposal is tied directly to the state takeover section of the school code, Sec. 1280c. We’ve been working with the Senate on amending or repealing this section, and still have hope that we can get some constructive changes made so that schools will not be under the threat of state takeover or closure without clear information and prior assistance.

MASB is engaged with the bill sponsor and other stakeholder groups on this issue and will continue to keep you informed as it moves forward. In the meantime, we welcome your input on the proposal and hope you will also share it with your Representative. The next hearing on HB 5526 is Thursday in the House Education Reform Committee.

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