Beyond Grades: How Are We Doing?
The fourth in a series on grades and grading
In previous posts I have argued that we need to move away from grades as a method of assessment because grades are a poor way to provide feedback to students and also a poor way to provide feedback to parents. In this last in the series on grades, I will argue that grades are also a particularly poor way to provide feedback to schools.
Throughout the country the grading of schools has become fashionable. Florida, under the leadership of reform minded Jeb Bush, was the first state to adopt A-F grading for schools. since that time 15 other states have hopped on this bandwagon. These grades for schools are largely based on student performance on standardized tests. Corporate education reformers have sought to use school grades as a whip to make what they see as struggling schools shape up. Grading schools in this way has great appeal to legislators, because it allows them to give the appearance of caring about the quality of education without having to actually provide any resources that might help improve education in places that are wracked by poverty and years of inattention.
Grading Schools on an A-F basis is a bad idea for many reasons. The National Association of Secondary Principals sites several reasons in their white paper opposing school grades.
- No decision about a school's performance should be based on a single data point or single test.
- A valid measure of school performance should be comprehensive, accounting for school processes, conditions, practices, and outcomes.
- Qualitative and quantitative measures should be used to measure school performance
- Information from any accountability system should target school improvement, not high-stakes consequences.
I would add that grading schools in this manner leads to a narrowing of the curriculum to focus on tested subjects, the destruction of morale for low performing schools in high poverty areas and a false sense of security for Russ on Reading: Beyond Grades: How Are We Doing?: