MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Board of Education hit the pause button on Thursday — at least temporarily — on plans to give schools an A-F letter grade.
Board members tabled a vote on rules for the proposed new report cards. Some board members expressed concerns that the grading scale needs more clarity; One said F’s would be disproportionately assigned to high-poverty, high-minority schools.
“Other states are pulling away from this,” said board member Stephanie Bell, who called the report cards a “fad.”
Alabama legislators followed in the footsteps of Florida and others states when they approved legislation in 2012 requiring that schools be graded on an A-F scale.
State Secretary of Education Michael Sentance cautioned the board members that they remain bound by this law, even though the A-F report cards aren’t something he would personally recommend. He said he thinks it’s more useful to give parents the underlying data on school and student performance.
“I think that the information ought to be given to parents unfiltered, and just allow them to make their own judgments about schools. That seemed to work pretty well elsewhere,” Sentance told reporters after the meeting.
Rep. Terri Collins, a Republican from Decatur who sponsored the 2012 report card law, said she’s disappointed by the board’s inaction.
“It’s time to move forward. It’s the law and it’s been the law for four years,” she said. In other states, the letter grades enable parents and communities to more easily compare school performance, sparking improvements in schools, she said.
“The school grade is what they all gave credit for the improvement,” Collins said.