Keeping The School Performance Grade Formula At 80/20 Is The NCGA’s Way of Fueling “School Choice”

Budget fact

From the recent Public School Forum of North Carolina’s report on top ten issues in NC education:

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From Lindsay Mahaffey, Wake County Board of Education – District 8:

16 states

If NC is the only state that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade, then NC weighs proficiency at least 30% more than the next ranking state.

If one thing is for certain, North Carolina’s school performance grades are a confirmation that student poverty levels have so much to do with how schools perform.

The people who made the decision to institute and maintain the school performance grading system formula and still expand vouchers and rapid charter school growth ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROFICIENCY AND GROWTH. IT HELPS TO VALIDATE THEIR WANT OF MORE “REFORMS.”

Interestingly enough, in the school year 2019-2020, the school performance grade scale will shift from a fifteen-point scale to a ten-point scale. Do you know what that means?

IT WILL BE HARDER FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO QUALIFY AS PASSING. IN FACT, SCHOOLS COULD HAVE A HIGHER PERCENTAGE OF STUDENT GROWTH AND STILL GET A LOWER SCHOOL PERFORMANCE GRADE!

There will be more failing schools. This comes from a legislative body that endorsed the state board a couple of school years ago to institute a ten-point scale for all high school grading systems to help ensure higher graduation rates, but now shrinks scales for those schools’ performance grades.

The only way that this grading scale would stay at 15 points is if a bill is passed that would keep the scale from converting to a 10-point scale. There is one bill that aks for this: House Bill 145.  The problem is that it isn’t moving.

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There was also a bill to change the School Performance Grade ratio form an 80/20 to a 50/50 so that growth and achievement would have equal effect on the score. Two bills were introduced in late February that were then combined into one action bill: HB 249.

Ironically, that bill is stuck as well.

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With policies that still hurt the working poor and those in poverty (which in NC affects over 20% of public school students) and the refusal to expand Medicaid and the other policies that hurt poorer regions, it is almost certain that poverty will have as much if not a bigger role in school performance grades in the near future.

Guess what else is happening in 2019-2010? Voucher expansion!

SECTION 6.6.(b) G.S. 115C-562.8(b) reads as rewritten: “(b) The General Assembly finds that, due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students, it is imperative that the State provide an increase of funds of at least ten million dollars ($10,000,000) each fiscal year for 10 years to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. Therefore, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the following amounts for each fiscal year to be used for the purposes set forth in this section:
Fiscal Year Appropriation

2017-2018: $44,840,000
2018-2019: $54,840,000
2019-2020: $64,840,000
2020-2021: $74,840,000
2021-2022: $84,840,000
2022-2023: $94,840,000
2023-2024: $104,840,000
2024-2025: $114,840,000
2025-2026: $124,840,000
2026-2027: $134,840,000

For the 2027-2028 fiscal year and each fiscal year thereafter, there is appropriated from the General Fund to the Reserve the sum of one hundred forty-four million eight hundred forty Page 14 Senate Bill 257-Ratified thousand dollars ($144,840,000) to be used for the purposes set forth in this section. When developing the base budget, as defined by G.S. 143C-1-1, for each fiscal year specified in this subsection, the Director of the Budget shall include the appropriated amount specified in this subsection for that fiscal year.”

Read that first line again: “due to the critical need in this State to provide opportunity for school choice for North Carolina students.”

That “critical need” has been created in part by making sure that many schools look bad – i.e., school performance grades. With a shrinking scale, more schools will “fail” and most of those schools will have higher levels of poverty in their student populations.

Those are exactly the students who will be targeted for expanding vouchers, because the Opportunity Grants are supposed to help “low-income” students and newer charter schools are being create simply to provide “choice.”

They know damn well the difference between proficiency and growth – the less proficient public schools look in the eyes of the public through a lens that the NC General Assembly prescribes, the more growth for “reforms.”