Board of Education Approves Resolutions About Calendars and Performance Grades

The Guilford County Board of Education at its Dec. 2 meeting approved two resolutions about legislation that impacts public schools.

First, the Board approved a resolution asking the state to give local school boards control over school calendars.

State law currently restricts how school calendars can be set, including when the first and last day of school may take place. Under the resolution, the board states those restrictions create a situation where fall semester can’t be completed before the winter break, has led to a decrease in the amount of instructional time students have before taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate tests, and created other challenges for GCS students.

The resolution says reinstating calendar control to local school boards would allow the boards to best meet the unique educational needs and school calendar preferences of the children and families within their communities.

The Board also approved a resolution denouncing the “School Performance Grades” as an ill-conceived, ineffective and potentially damaging approach to addressing otherwise legitimate needs to provide parents and taxpayers with accurate indications of school performance. Public schools will each be assigned a letter grade, from A through F, in February. The resolution asks the General Assembly to repeal the School Performance Grade legislation.

Under the legislation, standardized test scores would account for 80 percent of the A-F grade; growth would account for just 20 percent. The Board’s resolution notes that relying on one measure – standardized test scores – for 80 percent of the grade defies best practices in educational evaluation and research, and severely limits the impact of yearly growth.

According to preliminary calculations, the majority of GCS elementary and middle schools may be assigned a grade of D or lower under this proposed system, yet three-fourths of those schools met or exceeded growth. The reverse would be true if proficiency and growth were given equal weighting.

The resolution also states, “this proposed grading system is fraught with error and will likely be misleading to the public regarding the quality of education provided by each school, Guilford County Schools, and public education, generally.”