Posted February 14, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Letter to the Editor: A-F grading scale may be a good idea


There has been discussion of House Bill 1999, which requires the state to report individual school performance using an A-F grading scale. The main critique seems to be that it is overly simplistic and redundant due to the accountability and standards of accreditation (SOA) process.

I looked at the Virginia Department of Education website and there is a 78-page document describing the SOA, another 22 pages on the state, 28 more on Frederick County and 19 just on James Wood High School. A little simplification may be in order! The Frederick County Public Schools website was a bit friendlier. The "Fast Facts" sheet is helpful and school profiles provide good information.

I attended the School Board meeting last Tuesday and Dr. Sovine expressed displeasure with the bill. The next day, I read in the paper that Clarke County and Winchester City superintendents don't like it either. It made me wonder. I reviewed the 2012 Governor's Award of Education Excellence: 86 recipients, zero schools from Winchester or Frederick and Clarke counties.

The next tier, Board of Education Award of Education Excellence: 188 recipients, one school from Clarke (Boyce Elementary). Third tier, Board of Education Competence Award: 171 recipients, one school from Frederick (Aylor Middle) and one from Winchester (John Kerr).

I reviewed the Virginia Department of Education 2012 Annual Report: 82 of 132 school divisions were fully compliant with all provisions of the Standards of Quality for 2011-2012. Winchester and Frederick County were among them. Clarke was not. (Appendix A, page 34); 88 of 132 school divisions have all schools fully accredited. Winchester and Clarke County were among them. Frederick County was not. (Appendix C, page 50)

Looks like there is some room for improvement and perhaps an A-F grading scale might prompt more folks to "do their homework." With the School Board asking for an additional $7.2 million in salary increases for competitive pay, we taxpayers deserve accountability. Let's reward those educators and schools that meet and exceed standards. I am not certain providing everyone across-the-board pay increases will equate to the improvement we need.

Jay L. Marts, Frederick County

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