A bill to provide parents and communities more transparent and consistent evaluation of the performance of public schools today cleared the House Education Policy Committee priming it for a vote by the full House as soon as next week.
House Bill 588, by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) calls for the State Superintendent of Education to develop a system that evaluates school performance and assigns grades of A, B, C, D or F to allow parents and communities at large to better know how their children are being served by local public schools. The bill requires the grading system to be developed by the end of this year and implemented during the 2013-2014 school year.
"Parents deserve to know the how their child's school is performing," said Rep. Collins. "How can a local community know what is needed to improve their school system if the public doesn't know how the local schools stack up? Everyone always talks about having more parental involvement and local community 'buy-in' for public schools. When we start being honest with parents and community leaders about the true quality of their schools, you watch how interested and invested they become in public education."
The bill calls for using state-authorized assessments and other key performance indicators that give a total profile of the school or the school system, such as student achievement scores, achievement gap, college and career readiness, learning gains, and other indicators impacting student learning and success as determined by the State Superintendent of Education. The school grading system would be consistently applied so that grades of one school or system may be compared to the grades of any other school or system.
"We need more consistency in school evaluations," Rep. Collins added. "Working with House Speaker Mike Hubbard and my colleagues in the House, we've researched how this reform has succeeded in other states. We even met with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose record on education reform speaks for itself. He told us that implementing an accurate, consistent, easy-to-understand school grading system was the single reform most responsible for Florida's extraordinary gains in education."
House Speaker Mike Hubbard applauded Rep. Collins for this bold, yet simple policy reform.
"Rep. Terri Collins is a champion for improving public schools, and we are lucky to have her in the Alabama Legislature," Speaker Hubbard said. "This is a common sense reform that will result in local communities becoming more informed about what's going on in their public schools and, therefore, more involved. While we work to improve our overall education system from the ground up, we must also allow parents, educators and community leaders the flexibility to fix local problems with local solutions. That starts with transparency."
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