Today school performance grades for the 2021-2022 school year were released. The only positive about those school performance grades in relation to the last time they were issued (three years ago) is that the NCGA kept the scale at a 15-point scale instead of what was planned originally for the 2020-2021 school year: making it a 10-point scale.
The formula is still the same however – extreme emphasis on test scores over growth. Grades for the last two years were never released due to the pandemic.
From the January 2019 Public School Forum of North Carolina’s report on top the issues in NC education:
Those were from the last time these grades were released. Not surprisingly, this year’s school performance grades yielded the information shown in the graph above: school performance grades correlate heavily with poverty levels in schools. In fact, it almost is sure-fire measure of poverty rates.
Back to the Charlotte Observer report:
Those trends have been in place since the school performance grading system began. And NC is unique in how it uses their school grading system. From Lindsay Mahaffey, Wake County Board of Education – District 8 in January of 2019 when the last grades were given:
If NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade, then NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.
For certain, North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.
The people who made the decision to institute and maintain the school performance grading system formula and still expand vouchers and rapid charter school growth ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFICIENCY AND GROWTH. IT HELPS TO VALIDATE THEIR WANT OF MORE “REFORMS.”
What if in the school year 2019-2020, the school performance grade scale did shift from a fifteen-point scale to a ten-point scale. Do you know what that would have meant?
IT WOULD HAVE BEEN HARDER FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO QUALIFY AS PASSING. IN FACT, SCHOOLS COULD HAVE HAD A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF STUDENT GROWTH AND STILL GET A LOWER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE GRADE!
There would have been more failing schools. This comes from a legislative body that endorsed the state board a few school years ago to institute a ten-point scale for all high school grading systems to help ensure higher graduation rates, but also wanted to shrink scales for those schools’ performance grades.
A legislative body that was elected with unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps.
NC still has policies that hurt the working poor and those in poverty (which in NC affects over 20% of students) and the refusal to expand Medicaid and the other policies that hurt poorer regions, it is almost certain that poverty would have as much if not a bigger role in the school performance grades released today .
Guess what else happened in 2022?
Read that first line again: “due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students.”
That “critical need” has been created in part by making sure that many schools look bad – i.e., school performance grades. Students who live in poverty in a state that refuses to attack the very issue of poverty will become potential targets for “reform” efforts.
Those are exactly the students who will be targeted for expanding vouchers and new charter schools, because the Opportunity Grants are supposed to help “low-income” students and newer charter schools are being created simply to provide “choice.”
Lawmakers and education “reformers” know damn well the difference between proficiency and growth – the less proficient public schools look in the eyes of the public through a lens that the NC General Assembly prescribes, the more growth for “reforms.”