Raleigh, N.C. — A proposal that would keep school grades on a more generous scale for the next two years is headed for the Senate after winning quick approval from the House Tuesday.
Under the 2013 law that required all schools to receive letter grades, the first year was to be calculated on a 15-point scale. Scores 85 and above would be As, 70 to 84 would be a B and so on.
The grades are calculated using overall student testing performance at 80 percent and student improvement at 20 percent, a ratio many in the education community say should be closer to 50-50.
That scale was set to tighten to a 10-point range for the current 2014-15 school year – that is, an A would be 90 and above, B would be 80-89 and so on.
Even under the more generous scale, 29 percent of the state's public schools earned a D or an F for 2013-14. Under a tighter scale, that number would almost certainly rise.
House Bill 358 would delay the tightening of the grading scale until the 2016-17 school year.
Speaking to the House Education K-12 committee Tuesday morning, sponsor Rep. Jeff Elmore, R-Wilkes, said it would provide a three-year period using the same scale.
"For us to get consistent data in this time period, where you’re comparing apples to apples," Elmore said, "a switch in the scale itself will not give us the numbers we need to compare the performance of our schools."
Co-sponsor Rep. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus, asked committee Chairman Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, to expedite the bill.
"We’d like to get it out this week so that it can be finished before our break," Johnson said.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, asked whether another bill to adjust the calculation ratio would be forthcoming. Johnson said House and Senate leaders had discussed it and had agreed to review the data at the end of the three-year period.
Rep. Skip Stam, R-Wake, said he would prefer that each school received two grades – one for performance and one for improvement – rather than combining them.
"I like mashed potatoes and gravy and I like Jell-O, but I don't like my Jell-O mixed up in my mashed potatoes and gravy," Stam said.