Refine, Don’t Scrap Grades
West Virginia’s new A-F system for grading public school performance is disliked virtually universally by educators. Many would love to see it go away.
In truth, the program has many flaws. Assigning grades based on a bell-curve system may be justifiable by statisticians, but it makes no sense in the real world. Either a school is doing good work or it is not.
Educators have a point about too much of the grade relying on how students perform on standardized tests, too. Though the examinations are important, they are far from the only way education achievement can be demonstrated.
Pressure on the state Board of Education and legislators to eliminate the new system has been great. As many Mountain State residents are aware, when the education establishment — teachers’ unions, school administrators and county board of education members — are on the same page, they are a powerful lobby.
But the grading system has some major advantages. First, of course, it gives West Virginians an evaluation we can understand, based on the same A-F scores we received in school.
Second, it provides information on a variety of aspects of education. It gives Mountain State residents both the big picture and the critical details.
So, by all means, let us refine and improve the A-F system. Doing away with it entirely — going back to square one — would not be a wise move by state board members or legislators.