April 17, 2014

Proposal to grade each school in Missouri offered in committee

A proposal to grade each of the state’s schools has been heard in a House Committee. 

Representative Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau)  (Photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

Representative Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) (Photo courtesy; Missouri House Communications)

House Bill 388 is proposed by Representative Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau). It would have the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education create an annual report card for each school using letter grades of A-F, based on performance data that is already available.

Swan says this would just make that information more accessible and understandable.

“All of us know about letter grades. I’m sure all of us have all received A’s and B’s, and have now knowledge of having a C, D or F,” she jokes, “however some may have, and that’s why we truly understand what A through F means in a report card.”

Representative Genise Montecillo (D-St. Louis) says she likes the bill’s intent, but she thinks a letter grade is too vague to convey the performance issues that could be affecting a school.

“From what I’m hearing this doesn’t take into account the student body, whether a particular school has a large free-and-reduced [lunch] population, a large special education population, some of our districts back in St. Louis, some of their buildings have very large special ed and free-and-reduced lunch, we have a lot of mobility back in our urban core in St. Louis … I think some of these factors aren’t equally weighted.”

Swan tells Montecillo the information available from the Department is easier to understand for people with an education background but makes less sense to many parents. She thinks a letter grade would be more familiar for those parents.

Her bill would have the first report card for the 2013-14 school year be distributed by December, 2014. The legislation’s fiscal note says it would cost the education department about $13,000 to set up but would create no recurring fee for the state, and Swan says costs to school districts would be minimal and could be absorbed by existing resources.