School Districts Fight Unfair School Letter Grades
At least five local school districts are fighting for the repeal of a state law that gives letter grades to schools based on student test scores. The school boards argue that this system does not reflect student growth as the grades are based 80 percent on standardized testing and only 20 percent on student growth.
Durham school board member Natalie Beyer says the grades are designed to make public schools look bad.
"It's about shaming schools," Beyer said. "And it is really about expanding the voucher system in the next couple of years in North Carolina."
Schools received the grades for the first time in February. Nearly 30 percent of schools got a D or and F, marking them as low-performing. Legislators toughened the school grading system in this year’s state budget, increasing the number of D and F schools to 581 across the state. Most of those schools serve high-poverty student populations.
Durham school board member Minnie Forte-Brown takes issue with the penalties schools can face for low grades. Schools that are consistently labeled low-performing can be forced to replace their principals and teachers.
"It’s disheartening, it is capricious and it is ill-conceived. And they (legislators) aren’t capable of making those evaluations," Forte-Brown said.