In April this year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill to create an A-F school grading system for Georgia schools (SB 133). A, B, C, D, or F will be assigned to each public elementary and secondary school based on student achievement, achievement gap closure, and student growth. Schools earning an F for at least three consecutive years will qualify for the new Opportunity School District. The OSD will take in a maximum of 20 schools per year, with no more than 100 at any given time, and will have jurisdiction over these schools for a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years.
Kelly Cadman is a parent and teacher at Brighten Academy Charter School. In this essay, she explains why she supports Georgia’s new A-F school grading system.
By: Kelly Cadman
Politicians may talk a big game about education, but at the end of the day, no one has the same stake in my children’s future that I do. As a parent, I’m ultimately responsible for ensuring my two boys, aged 11 and 16, are prepared for all the opportunities and challenges that life brings. I am also a teacher, and I believe that responsibility extends to my students.
But how are we parents supposed to know what happens in our kids’ schools? We can’t do anything to help if we don’t know their schools are struggling. Even the most involved parents can miss major problems in the classroom, because we can’t be there every day. That is why I’m excited about the new A-F school grading system in Georgia.
The new system, which was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year and will be released in 2016, raises the bar in education in three critically important areas. Here is where the teacher in me kicks in.
First and foremost, A-F school grading prioritizes excellence over the complacency in the old system. There should be no greater goal in education than academic success. Through the simplicity of A-F letter grades, parents can quickly identify problematic trends at their children’s school and get engaged to help turn them around.
Secondly, according to other states that have implemented A-F school grading, this urgency prompts entire communities to come together to tackle the problems of a given school. Across the nation, parents, teachers and community leaders are rejecting mediocrity and the status quo, and dedicating themselves to improving student achievement.
Just like a report card helps me understand how my child is doing academically, A-F grades will give me a better idea of how their schools are performing. And the increase of public attention surrounding the release of the grades will inspire pride in successful schools and unleash a competitive fire in struggling schools committed to doing better.
While the new A-F school grading system provides more accountability and transparency in education, that does not mean it is perfect. And as parents, teachers and community leaders, we must continue to push to refine the system to improve student achievement.
The debate over education reform is never an easy one. Many of us parents sincerely love our children’s teachers and know that our schools are working harder than ever to provide our children with an education that prepares them for success. As a teacher, I am striving each day to set my students up for success. But this is a debate worth having, because how we educate our children today will determine not just their future, but the future of our entire state.
As a mother of two children and teacher to 27 students, I choose reform. And it is my belief that Georgia’s new A-F school grading policy will help create an education system that is second to none.