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NCASA Working To Extend 15-Point Scale In Calculating School Performance Grades

Refine A-F  A House measure addressing one of the Top 5 Legislative Priorities for the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA) has remained stalled in the Senate Rules Committee since March 28 until the NCASA advocacy team this week helped convince Senate lawmakers to schedule the bill for a hearing next Wednesday, 6/26, in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee.

House Bill 362, sponsored by Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), would permanently extend the 15-point scale used for calculating school performance grades. This legislation is among NCASA’s top priorities for 2019 because of the significant consequences it holds for public schools operated by LEAs and charters statewide, as outlined in our issue brief shared with lawmakers earlier this legislative session.

Currently, a school’s overall grade is calculated based on a 15-point scale (A = 85–100, B = 70–84, C = 55–69, D = 40–54, F = 39 or Less). This scale is scheduled to change to a 10-point scale beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. This shift in the grading scale will inevitably cause fewer schools to be designated as “A” or “B” and more to be labeled as “D” or “F”. As a result of this expected drop in school performance grades, parents and the public at-large may mistakenly view the declining grades of local schools and districts as an indicator of lower-quality instruction, rather than attributing the drop to the mandatory change in the grading scale.

Although the implementation of school performance grades in 2013-14 called for moving from the initial 15-point scale to a 10-point scale, state lawmakers have maintained the 15-point scale. Previous extensions of this scale occurred after lawmakers heard from NCASA, other education advocates and even business leaders about the dire consequences shifting to a 10-point scale could hold, both for public perception of school quality and economic development in communities where school grades would drop due to the shift.

NCASA is hopeful that Senators now are joining their House counterparts in embracing a more permanent extension of the 15-point scale, since they have scheduled a hearing on HB 362 in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee next week. It is important that a permanent extension of this measure move forward prior to the 2019-20 year, which will start soon after July 4th for districts operating year-round schools.

NCASA appreciates work by Senate Education Co-Chairs Rick Horner (R-Nash), Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga) and Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) to get HB 362 moving in the Senate and for House Education Committee leaders who have made passage of this bill a top priority in recent education budget negotiations. We will provide additional updates on this legislation in next week’s In the Know newsletter, at www.ncasa.net and via @NCASAtweets.

Other bills scheduled for action 6/26 in the Senate Education/Higher Education Committee include:

  • HB 107, PED Oversight/EPP Changes – Would make various changes to Educator Preparation Program standards as recommended by the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee.
  • HB 377, Reduce Testing – Would do as the short title indicates through the following:
  • Eliminate NC Final Exams (NCFEs) beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Replace end-of-grade assessments (EOGs) with a "through-grade assessment model" similar to the NC Check-Ins beginning with the 2022-2023school year.
  • Replace end-of-course assessments (EOCs) with a nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement, such as the ACT or SAT, effective January 1, 2020, and would require the nationally recognized assessment beginning with the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Eliminate required administration of the WorkKeys assessment beginning with performance grades issued for data from the 2019-20 year.
  • Prohibit standardized testing by local school administrative units (LEAs) except as required by the State Board of Education (State Board) beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Prohibit graduation projects as a condition of graduation beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.