Georgia’s A-F Grading of Schools

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under Standardized Testing

8 responses to “Georgia’s A-F Grading of Schools

  1. Until we know the specifics, and how the specifics will play out, Ms. Kelly Cadman’s writing is empty flattery. Written to make you lax and cajole you into blindly trusting the state. I expect better from a teacher. Especially as Ms. Cadman teaches fifth graders, and according to her Scribd page, writing. I find it hard to believe she would accept a persuasive essay from her Fifth Grade students, empty of any “hard facts” to prove the argument. Pie Crust illusions are easily broken, and in Georgia we have been the recipients of those for a long time. Consider the low standards for the CRCT, and that GADOE still has not made public the test standards for the new Georgia Milestones. Yes, they have released performance levels, but those are not standards. Test Standards are the percent of correct answers a student needs to qualify for each performance level. Where is the transparency here? The state was not transparent about the CRCT. The state has not been transparent about Milestones. Why would anyone expect them to suddenly be transparent about what A, B, C, D, and F means? The plan, I suspect is like a work of fiction, to let your imagination fill in the blanks. With standards you and I would like to think they use. I for one want hard facts, and hard values. We need to get beyond the fictionalized version of education. We need hard facts, hard values, and honesty. I can only hope you want the truth as well.

  2. What kind of specifics, transparency and hard facts are you looking for the state to provide?

  3. Two things specifically:
    One, the Cut Scores for each performance level in Milestones.
    Two, the actual CCRPI numerical score that sets the minimum value for all A through D letter grades.

  4. Georgia Milestones assesses student learning along four levels of performance. There is a cut score for every grade level in every subject. For example – 6th grade Math:
    Distinguished Learner score range: 580-700
    Proficient Learner score range: 525 – 579
    Developing Learner score range: 475-524
    Beginning Learner score range: 285-474

    Beginning Learners do not yet demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students need substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.

    Developing Learners demonstrate partial proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified by Georgia’s content standards. The students need additional academic support to ensure success in the next grade level or course and to be on track for college and career readiness.

    Proficient Learners demonstrate proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are prepared for the next grade level or course and are on track for college and career readiness.

    Distinguished Learners demonstrate advanced proficiency in the knowledge and skills necessary at this grade level/course of learning, as specified in Georgia’s content standards. The students are well prepared for the next grade level or course and are well prepared for college and career readiness.

  5. Yes there are Cut Scores. Although, the values you posted are Scaled Scores. Cut Scores are the number of correct answers needed to meet each Performance Level. Which was posted as well. Cut Scores actually tell the REAL VALUE of the Scaled Scores posted.

  6. bkendall527

    Yes there are Cut Scores, although, what was posted was not Cut Scores. Cut Scores are the number of correct answers needed to reach each of the four Performance Levels above. The numerical vales posted are Scaled Scores. The Cut Scores tell the REAL VALUE for each of the performance levels.

  7. bkendall527

    Not on topic: “Happy New Year!”

  8. To your point, we don’t know how difficult the questions were, the raw right vs wrong results obtained or expected, etc … It’s much like ITBS, SAT, or any other standardized test (for better or for worse). There is even less information on the nationally normed questions.

    It does tell us how schools and districts are doing relative to each other. Hopefully it can indicate to schools and districts what subjects are being taught better than others. I haven’t seen the results down to that level, so I don’t know how well the results match up to the curriculum.