School letter grades still coming this fall

by Heather Miller

Senate Education Committee defeats a measure by state Sen. Jonathan Perry, R-Abbeville, to delay letter grades for measuring school performance. Louisiana's 1,300 public schools will still be receiving letter grades this fall instead of stars and labels, despite a bill from state Sen. Jonathan Perry that would have delayed the new grading system.

The Advocate reports that Perry, R-Abbeville, backed by the state's teacher unions and the Louisiana School Boards Association, wanted to halt for two years the new system of assigning letter grades to schools, but the Senate Education Committee on Thursday voted 5-4 against his bill.

The new system was created as a way to simplify the way the state measures school performance, with supporters of letter grades saying that stars and labels "mean little to students and parents:"

Perry says the new grading system could have negative effects on teachers and others in the education field, but opposition from a BESE board member and Gov. Bobby Jindal's education adviser prevailed:
"This is an attack on accountability," said Stafford Palmieri, education policy adviser for Gov. Bobby Jindal and an opponent of the bill. "Accountability is the num-ber one tool we have to im-prove education in Louisiana," Palmieri added.

Chas Roemer, a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, also denounced the proposal.
"This is about giving honest information to parents," Roe-mer said of the grading system, which he helped develop.

Under the system approved by BESE in December, grades will assigned to public schools based on annual school performance scores, which primarily reflect how students fared on key tests. Schools can get a plus on their letter grades if they meet state growth targets and a mi-nus if their annual score drops.
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