Virginia State Board of Education approves controversial grading system

8:45 AM, Nov 25, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- You may know your child's grades well, but how about how their school is performing?

The Virginia State Board of Education has approved a controversial new grading system that will give the schools letter grades as well as the students. 

Loudoun County delegate Tag Greason introduced what is now law to have the state assign letter grades to schools themselves. 

"When I talked to the average parent, they're not really sure what accreditation means but they absolutely know what an A, B, C or D grade means and we just wanted to use words that they would understand and be able to digest," Greason said.  

But the Fairfax County School Board and others oppose the new grading system. They say it will unfairly label schools, especially those with high populations of struggling students. 

"I think it causes harm because it sets up competition. It's unfair. It sets up a judgment call that is unfair to children and to teachers, and I think it sets up some schools to fail,"said Janie Strauss, Fairfax County School Board member.

Strauss says a school with a bad grade also unfairly labels its students and teachers.

"We try to figure out ways to help the kids. You don't label them a failure and walk away. You are leaving children behind then," said Strauss.

"It's a good argument but right now we haven't changed the underlying accreditation system at all. We've just changed the words that we use. So that school that's already not accredited and now we call it a D, the parents should have fled before we called it a D," said Greason. 

Greason says there's something else new in the A through F grading system. He says for the first time students will be graded on student growth, so if they start start way behind and improve, the school will be graded higher.

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