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Panel approves ending A-F grades for schools

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

A bill that would replace the state’s A-F grading system for public schools flew through the Senate Education Committee on Monday with little opposition.

Senate Bill 229, sponsored by Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, would kill singular letter grades and, instead, set up a dashboard system with the aim to provide more information about schools.

Stewart told the committee the dashboards would still show academic achievement but it would also include other types of information including schools’ goals, missions, curriculums and teacher quality.

Representatives from major local teachers unions and school districts – including Albuquerque Public Schools – backed the bill.

New Mexico’s current grading system for public schools was signed into law by then-Gov. Susana Martinez in 2011.

It relies on student standardized test scores, graduation rates and reading improvement to issue annual letter grades to schools.

But critics have argued the system stigmatizes and punishes low-performing schools.

Although there was no opposition from the public during Monday’s hearing, Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, said he liked the simplicity of an A-F system and was “still thinking through” Senate Bill 229.

Brandt, who voted in opposition, also said his primary concern, as a parent, was academic information about schools.

Under the bill, schools would be identified for additional federal funds and other support via proficiency and growth in math, English and science on statewide assessments. High schools’ graduation rates would also be evaluated.