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Lawmakers Approve Extending 15-Point Scale For Calculating School Performance Grades

Katherine Joyce | NCASA Executive Director

House Bill 362, which would permanently extend the 15-point scale for calculating A-F school performance grades, is on its way to the Governor after clearing both the Senate and House this week. The Senate unanimously approved the measure 49-0 Tuesday, and the House voted 112-4 on Wednesday to accept the Senate’s changes. The bill was then sent to Governor Roy Cooper for further consideration and approval.

The Senate Education/Higher Education Committee had added a section to the bill requiring the State Board of Education, in consultation with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, to study:

  • The weighting of the school achievement score and the school growth score in calculation of the overall school performance score to best reflect performance and progress for each school; and
  • The reporting methods used to meaningfully differentiate schools on the North Carolina annual school report cards.

The State Board would report on recommendations to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by February 15, 2020.

A final part of the bill would also revive interim rules for the State Board of Education until August 9, 2019, require the State Board to adopt those rules as emergency rules by that date, and require adoption of the emergency rules as permanent rules by May 30, 2020.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union), would become effective when it becomes law and would make the 15-point scale permanent for A-F school performance grades calculations beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.

This legislation is among the NC Association of School Administrators (NCASA)’s top priorities for 2019 due to the significant consequences it holds for public schools statewide. 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). In the absence of a law change, this scale would change to a 10-point scale, beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, and would likely cause an inaccurate community perception of declining school performance.

Due to strong bipartisan support for retaining the 15-point scale, NCASA is hopeful that Governor Cooper will quickly sign H362 into law, and we appreciate the efforts of all lawmakers who pushed for the bill’s passage and supported it.

Legislators also sent some other bills affecting K-12 public schools to the Governor this week, and they await his decision to sign, veto, or let them become law without his endorsement. Those 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 411, Modify School Quality/Student Success Indicator – Would combine career and college readiness indicators for both school performance grades required under State law, as well as for federal reporting purposes under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); Also requires the State Board of Education to include additional career and college readiness information on annual school report cards. Also, in an unrelated measure added through an amendment on the Senate floor, would allow certain lottery winners to remain anonymous for 90 days.

Other public-school legislation, signed by Governor Cooper today, includes the following:

  • SB 399, Rehire Retired Teachers – Would allow teachers who retired on or before February 1, 2019 to return to work in certain high-needs schools without adversely impacting their retirement benefits.
  • SB 500, Modify Advanced Math Course Enrollment – Would clarify requirements for advanced math course enrollment and require reporting on that enrollment. Additionally, for the 2019-2020 school year only, it would exempt certain schools from the requirement that 7th grade students who score at the highest level be enrolled in a high school math course in 8th grade. Also would expressly authorize local boards of education to provide supplemental content enrichment to students enrolled in a high school level math course, if needed, and clarify that schools that are exempted from the 8th grade math placement requirement in 2019-2020 may still offer high school math in 8th grade if they choose.
Katherine Joyce