Governor Inslee supports letter grades for schools

There’s a lot of buzz about Senator Litzow’s bill, SB 5328, to implement a state ranking system to give A through F letter grades to public schools, so families and taxpayers can know where their local school stands.

This is a bipartisan idea. On Sunday, Tacoma's News Tribune noted that Jay Inslee has called for giving letter grades to schools and then using the rankings to inform parents. In an interview with the education reform group Stand for Children (at 10:10 below) Inslee said:

“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.”

Inslee repeated his support in an interview with The Seattle Times. He said he wants to, as the Times put it, “establish a system in which every school in the state receives a letter grade that’s accessible to parents.”

On our website we provide the state's latest Achievement Index and show what a letter-grade system would look like. You can look up your school here.

Parents love this idea. I was a guest Wednesday on the Mike Fitzsimmons Show, KXLY radio, and during my 90-minute segment we took dozens of calls from parents asking for their local school’s grade. The station’s phone board was jammed – the host couldn’t fit everyone in.

The main opponents to giving letter grades to schools once a year are the adults who would be graded, even though they work in a system that every day issues letter grades to children.

Public education only works when we have engaged parents in the community ready to do whatever it takes to make their school a success. Parents can only be engaged when they are informed; when they have a clear understanding of where their school stands in relation to other schools locally and across the state. It’s true that receiving a low ranking will make some adults employed in education uncomfortable, but it is worth it if it helps children by making our public schools stronger.

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