Bush Foundation Spins While Virginia is Skeptical of School Grade Formula


Virginia’s Board of Education is taking up the chore of formulating a school grade formula as per passage of a law by the Virginia Assembly earlier this year. Jeb Bush’s Foundation knows that’s the easy part as their leader’s rock start status allows him to part the waters of opposition in state legislatures. Naturally they tweeted approval today with the following:

Transparent accountability is coming to Virginia schools

Pay no attention, Virginia, that Jeb Bush’s school grade formula has collapsed in Florida and creates unprecedented chaos for everybody. A task force begins work today on revising that “transparent accountability” the Bushies are glittering their peeps with today. Virginia’s BOE have no illusions. From Washington Post reporter Michael Alison Chandler:

Board member Chris Braunlich pointed out at the meeting that the high school measurements don’t technically measure growth. Board members also said they were concerned they don’t capture the performance of students who don’t make it to graduation.

Growth measures are only one part of the formula that lawmakers approved for the grading scale. Schools will also be evaluated by state test scores and graduation rates, as well as other measures included in state and federal accountability requirements.

The bigger question board members have to tackle will come this fall when they decide how much weight to give growth measures compared to the other components of the formula.

Many educators are concerned that too heavy an emphasis on test results will disadvantage schools serving students with higher needs.

We don’t want a set of labels that “fails to recognize progress that schools are making in the face of challenging demographics,” said Virginia Board of Education President David M. Foster.

Earlier this week, Chandler reported on reservations of Virginia’s school superintendents:

The A to F scale, which was approved by the General Assembly earlier this year, is intended to give parents an easy-to-understand summary of the varying quality of each of the state’s schools. But school leaders are worried that the measures will be more of a reflection of how many poor students they serve.

“We bend over backwards to help folks in poverty, and we don’t want to get punished for it,” said Mark Lineburg, the superintendent of schools in Bristol, a small school district in southern Virginia where two in three students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches.

Lineburg, with help from some university researchers, analyzed an initial formula that lawmakers considered, which was based largely on how well students perform on state tests. They found that 85 percent of the schools that would score a C or below had poverty ratings over 50 percent.

The Bush foundation’s “transparent accountability” platitude matched up smartly with an assurance from a Virginia pol that they would “level the playing field.”

Meanwhile, back in the Sunshine State, we are trying again to “level the playing field” of Jeb Bush’s decade old school grade formula of “transparent accountability” .

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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