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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 12, 2013 at 7:33 AM

Gov. Inslee should support letter grades for schools

Schools should be graded on quality, not merit

The Seattle Times editorial supporting letter grades for schools and empowering principals to have full discretion over who works in “their” buildings is a real disservice to public-school improvement efforts [“Governor should lead on letter grades,” Opinion, April 8].

We need public schools that evolve away from a highly centralized and standardized boss-management system embroiled in fear and toward a system that focuses on quality, built by intrinsically motivated educators for the benefit of intrinsically engaged students.

Although letter grades may be seen as a transparent “measuring stick,” they will guarantee low performance as they likely measure the least-important elements of a successful school. As Albert Einstein once remarked, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

In a school setting, context is important. Grades are not likely to measure teachers’ work arrangements, the quality of staff meetings, group problem-solving, collaboration or collegiality, teacher influence over school policy, textbook selection, student-guidance activities, curriculum development, school climate, student motivation or satisfaction.

We need to abolish merit ratings and boss-management approaches to school improvement. Such approaches are based on the myth that people are primarily motivated by the outside.

Tom L. Carter, Kenmore

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