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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

January 28, 2013 at 1:31 PM

New bill in Olympia would give letter grade to schools, reward ‘A’ earners

This post has been updated to reflect a pending amendment to the bill and to include a comment from House education committee Chairwoman Sharon Tomiko Santos.

Republicans in the state Senate introduced a bill Monday morning that would assign a letter grade — A, B, C, D or F — to each public school based on the performance of its students on standardized test and other measures.

Schools that earn “A” grades would be eligible for teacher bonuses and get more control over the money the state allocates to them.

The original version of the bill would exempt charter schools and alternative schools from the grading unless they opt in. But the sponsors have since introduced an amended version that would include charters and alternative schools in all cases.

Senate Bill 5328 would peg most of the grade to an accountability index of test scores, achievement gaps and more, developed by the state board of education and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. High schools also would be graded by graduation rate, SAT scores and AP course participation.

The bill is sponsored by Senate education Chairman Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island.

State Rep. Cathy Dahlquist, a Enumclaw Republican who serves as ranking member on the House education committee, discussed the idea this weekend at an annual Republican Party conference.

“We need parents at home to understand what their school is doing,” Dahlquist told attendees at the Roanoke Conference. “I want parents to know, hey, my school is a C- but the school across the way is a B+. What are they doing different? I want it to be driven at the grassroots level, I want them to be questioning, and I want improvement to happen there.”

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday.

The chairwoman of the House education committee, Sharon Tomiko Santos, said she hasn’t yet read the bill.

“At this point, I will be keeping an open mind,” said Santos, D-Seattle. “I look forward to the discussion we’ll be having when the bill is heard in the Education Committee.”

0 Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: Cathy Dahlquist, education, grading

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