VA passes law to help improve school performances

How does one differentiate a good or bad school? Earlier this year, Virginia state legislation passed Governor Bob McDonald’s new initiatives for K-12 schools. These newly added initiatives included an “A-F Grading Scale” that would ultimately work to help pinpoint schools that are deemed “bad” and direct funds and services to help better them.

The grading scale was created to keep the federal government informed of the progress of public schools in a state because Virginia state government asked for exemption from the federal policy known as the “No Child Left Behind Policy.”

No Child Left Behind is a policy that was enacted in 2011 that strives to make higher education achievable for all children, despite their socioeconomic or social disadvantages.

The new policy also helps increase the accountability of a school if they have falling or prospering standards. School board officials travel to all the public schools throughout Virginia, studying and compiling information to develop a grade that best reflects the school.

The overall purpose of the new grading policy does provide possible and effective benefits for students and teachers throughout Virginia on paper, but the scale itself leaves a large gray area in what exactly the grades mean.

According to the Daily Press Newspaper, Governor McDonnell said, “Every parent knows what [an A-F grading scale] means and they know A is great; they know F is failing – and they know the scale in between. The challenge we have right now is that our school rating system is not that clear.”

Many school officials and parents agree that the definition of what each grade means need to be clarified. They also argue that a single letter grade is not sufficient enough to cover an entire school.

A school is made up of many different aspects including academics, athletics, clubs and organizations. The state has yet to specify exactly what the school board officials will be looking at when they go to review schools.

The new A-F grading scale will have consequences for K-12 schools throughout the state in the immediate and long-term future. McDonnell is currently addressing concerns about the way in which the policy will be implemented and its effects.