A couple of weeks before we went on winter break the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill that would assign letter grades to schools.
It seems like a majority of public school educators think this is a horrible ideas. There are some who believe that this will unfairly stigmatize urban schools. Additionally, in a local article on MLive, titled Michigan House approves A-F school grading system in marathon session a local Michigan Democrat representative said, “adopting the A-F system would put Michigan in line with the systems of lower-performing states in education, not the high performers.” Both these sentiments align with my own thoughts and as a Principal at an Alternative Ed High School, where test scores are consistently low, my school would most likely fall into an F range. Regardless of that, there are three reasons schools graded on an A-F scale is beneficial to school leaders.
Getting an F as a school administrator is a reminder of how our struggling students feel when they are not successful. There are always circumstances outside our students’ control that impact their education. Getting a failing grade is an opportunity to discuss social issues that might otherwise get brushed under the rug. In receiving a failing grade we are forced to reflect on the difficulty that some of our students face. It also creates the opportunity to try new things that those stuck in a traditional school mode might not otherwise have the political capital to attempt.
If a school receives an F, the local media will run the story. Local businesses and families will have to make a decision if this is acceptable. Realtors and local political players would work hard to drive resources to schools in the hopes of raising the value of property and their own reputations. In this way more community resources would be funneled into the school system as people come together, as it would be in their best business interests to support the schools.
With the way people are able to twist language or use different words to soften the impact of failure an A-F scale makes it easy to see where you stand. Everybody knows what an A means. Everybody knows what an F means. There is no hiding behind political language. If a traditional grading scale is how we rate our children we should have the courage to rate ourselves in the same manner.
No system is perfect. A scale that rates our schools A-F at least reminds us what it feels like to be students, impacts community accountability and is easy for everybody to read. Perhaps if we don’t like using such a scale to judge ourselves we shouldn’t use such a scale to judge our students.
For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the http://www.theprincipalentrepreneur.com/ and/or pre order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur. To join the podcast as a guest email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm an owner of a new food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......