Lawmakers, education officials question school grading policy

Posted at: 11/15/2012 4:56 PM
Updated at: 11/15/2012 5:15 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Some powerful state lawmakers want to make changes in the state Education Department's new A-through-F grading system for New Mexico's public schools.

Some Democratic leaders on the Legislative Education Study Committee said during a Thursday meeting the system needs tweaks, some said it needs to be thrown out, while Republicans said officials need to give the policy a chance.

Education Secretary-Designate Hanna Skandera testified before the committee on the mechanics of the school grading system.

Some of the state's smaller school districts seem to be having trouble with the technology for reporting data to the education department.

And some schools received a "B' in January, but later received a 'D' in May leaving many to wonder what went right and what went wrong and why there is so much fluctuation in the grades.

"The students don't understand - what does that mean," Committee Chairman Rep. Rick Miera (D-Albuquerque) said as he described what's on students' minds. "I have a bad school. I have an 'F' rated school - what does that mean to me? Do I really want to come back to this school. I love my school, am I going to have to leave?"

"We all want to be accountable," Rep. Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), a veteran educator, said. "These schools and these teachers want their students to perform well and we all want a good accountability system, but frankly we need to scrap this one and start over."

Some school superintendents testified against the grading system, but others were on hand to say the policy is working.

"By our numbers going up so high when it came to the A-to-F grading system we rated very well," Pecos Public Schools Superintendent Fred Trujillo said. "We are no longer part of that bottom five percent. Our community started to believe in the school system again and started to bring that pride back to the school system."

Supporters of the policy said it's a clear guide to identify which schools are performing well and which ones need more help.

With Democrats retaining majority control state legislature, lawmakers expect to see coming legislation aimed at the grading system when they convene in January.

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