Senate passes Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal

March 6, 2013

This morning the Senate passed SB 5328, which would create a pilot program to implement Governor Inslee’s A through F school grading proposal by giving letter grades to schools in five school districts. School grades would be based on the State Achievement Index and on schools’ progress toward improvement. The bill passed 26 to 23.

Senator Litzow (R-Mercer Island), the prime sponsor of SB 5328, said: “This bill is about creating an easily understood and transparent accountability system that is clear to every parent.... At the end of the day, this is about clarity and transparency for parents. Everyone understands it. What we have now is a murky description which does not define the difference between Good and Very Good, between Fair or Struggling.”

Proponents argued that letter grades for schools would create public pressure on the schools to to be more accountable to parents and taxpayers. Senator Smith (R-Colville) said: “Labeling schools as a D or an F will provide a great impetus for them to improve.”

Senator Tom (D-Bellevue) read from Governor Inslee’s statement last year describing his school grading proposal:  

“We have a quarter of our children who are sort of forgotten children, and that is going to be unacceptable when I’m governor. That’s one of the reasons I’m proposing (that) every school will have a letter grade that will be given and disseminated then to the parents in the district so that we hold ourselves accountable.”

Senator McAuliffe (D-Bothell), former Chair of the Senate Education Committee, led the opposition to the bill. The main argument of opponents was that giving schools letter grades could hurt the feelings of some of the adults working in public education.  

The purpose of the public schools is to serve children, not make adults feel comfortable. A good education develops the whole child, and provides children the skills and knowledge they need to prepare for the future. Too many children are not receiving the education we have promised them. Over one-third, 34%, of schools received a dismal “Fair” (D) or “Struggling” (F) on the State Board of Education’s latest Achievement Index. In passing Inslee’s school-grading idea Senators were thinking about the welfare of children first, not the bruised feelings of some adults, and working to make sure every child has access to a good education.


Simple but inaccurate

Sure an A – F grading system is easy to understand, but when the information it is based upon is complex the “grade,” at best, leads to inaccurate assumptions. Would it be an accurate description of your grade as a parent if I were to assign you a grade based on one observation of your parenting style without any background information. Even better, let me grade you as to how proficient you are in parenting in a language that you have limited familiarity with.

Don’t worry about bruising my ego. I welcome parents to inquire as to our teaching methodologies. We have no reason to hide our student growth data. Please, look at my students who are struggling the most and see how they have made gains despite the odds stacked against them. But don’t give us an F because in one single assessment, our students who came to school behind their peers due to lack of opportunities are not yet at standard. That simply reinforces the belief that all the gains our students have made are worthless.

This post, and many others, make it way to clear that your “reporting” is bias and that you have failed to truly understand the complexities of the issue.


It's too bad that the pro-charter advocates insisted on the opt out option for charters. Don't those parents deserve the same information?

Letter grades for schools

Hey, Liv,

The 70's called. They want their grading system back.

Why is it that schools are being asked to be accountable for kids meeting standards and moving from 5-scale linear grades and toward standards based grades, but politicians and non-educators want to use the same obsolete system to "grade" schools?

Two years ago the school I worked at was one of only 5 schools in the state recognized for continuously improving student scores, but this year get a "D". Why the disconnect?