Michigan Might Start Assigning Letter Grades to Public Schools Under New Bill

A new bill passed the Michigan House of Representatives Thursday that will require the state’s Department of Education to assign each public school a grade of A-F each year.

Supporters of the bill, which narrowly passed in a vote of 56-53, say that it will help provide parents with information on their children’s schools, and will also keep the state’s public schools accountable.

“Aside from the hyperbole and hysteria on the left, I think that this is a good thing for Michigan. I think it’ll help not only parents, but it will also help schools identify their weaknesses and focus on bringing those areas of weakness up,” Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Township), sponsor of the bill and chairman of the House Education Reform Committee, told The Detroit Free Press.

House Bill 5526 requires the Department of Education to “assign a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F” to each public school by September 1 of each year. The grade will be based on numerous criteria outlined in the bill, though some have criticized the legislation for including standardized tests as a performance measurement.

“The bottom line is simple: the bill does absolutely nothing to help parents, teachers, students succeed in the classroom,” Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton Township) told The Detroit Free Press, saying that “high-stakes standardized testing has done nothing to improve education in our state.”

But the bill includes several other provisions for determining academic success, including the growth of English as a Second Language students, and graduation rates for each school.

Additionally, the bill asks the Department of Education to compare the academic performance of each school to all other public schools that serve “a similar pupil population.”

It also requires the department to assess the rate of students who are chronically absent, the participation rate for standardized tests, and “pupil subgroup performance compared to pupils in the same subgroup statewide.”

House Bill 5526 will head to the Michigan Senate next week for debate, and would likely be signed into law by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) if passed.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to anthony.gockowski@gmail.com.
Background Photo “Michigan High School” by Dwight Burdette. CC BY 3.0.

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