At hearing, parents seek A through F grading system to measure local schools
Last week, Brooke Beresh, mother of a 1st grade student at John Hay Elementary in Seattle, told the House Education Committee that parents are hungry for easy-to-understand information about their schools. The House Education Committee was considering ESSB 5328, which would officially assign letter grades to schools based on the State Achievement Index.
SB 5328 has already passed the Senate and is now being considered by the House. Governor Inslee supports giving letter grades to schools as a way to inform parents. Washington Policy Center recently reported on how a letter-grade system would work. To find your school’s grade, see the latest Achievement Index results.
Ms. Beresh said parents talk constantly about school quality, but can’t find good information. “There is no shortage of hearsay on which schools are good and which schools are not,” she said, but getting good data on school performance is nearly impossible. She said public agency websites are very confusing and use different numbers. “Parents are basically blind on knowing the true quality of a school,” she said.
Ms. Beresh added, “Letter grades are simple and easy for everyone to understand. It is information parents can use in their decision making and their conversations. It should not be hidden away.”
The A-through-F system helps. Ms. Beresh’s school, John Hay Elementary, got an “A” on the Achievement Index. Yet nearby Coe Elementary only got a “C,” showing schools can vary widely in the same neighborhood. Ms. Beresh said “I don’t think parents in my neighborhood find a ‘C’ to be acceptable, and will work to improve it.”
The committee hearing shows parents are vitally interested in their schools, but education officials are failing to meet their need for information. Governor Inslee is right. Parents need a formal A-through-F grading system for schools, and ESSB 5328 would do just that.