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News Release: WVEA opposes state Board of Education’s passage of A-F school grading policy

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WVEA opposes state Board of Education’s passage of A-F school grading policy 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- WVEA strongly disagrees with the West Virginia Board of Education’s passage today of its A-F school grading policy (Policy 2320), as this unnecessary program will perpetuate the idea that many of our public schools are failing even though that is not the case.

Beginning this fall, schools will receive an A, B, C, D or F grade based on a scoring system approved by the state Board of Education. Too much of that scoring system depends on a student’s performance on the statewide summative assessment, which is currently the Smarter Balanced.

WVEA does not believe this accurately measures a school’s quality or performance.  

“Teachers are worried about the impact a negative school grade will have on their students, as well as on their communities,” said WVEA President Dale Lee. “They’re asking what resources will be available for schools that are labeled a D or an F.”

In the current political environment and budget situation, the state of West Virginia unfortunately is not investing new money into public education.
That leads to questions about what funding, if any, would be available for schools identified as needing extra help.        

There is also the possibility of sending confusing, mixed messages to our students and communities. For instance, a West Virginia school that worked hard to close achievement gaps and had been recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School could later be deemed a D or an F school if students struggle on their tests in a subsequent year.   

WVEA believes that A-F school grading continues a departure from the fundamental reasons for testing. Student assessments should not be about issuing letter grades for our schools or grading our teachers. The purpose of these assessments should be to inform instruction and collect data that allows our students and schools to improve.

With A-F school grading there also has been fraud and abuse in other states. Some states have repealed their laws. In others, such as Oklahoma, researchers have previously deemed A-F grading systems as flawed and meaningless for school improvement purposes. This leads us to question why this is necessary for West Virginia.            

WVEA is the largest teacher organization in the state and is the state affiliate of the 3 million-member National Education Association (NEA). WVEA represents teachers, education support professionals, higher education professionals and classified staff, retirees and college students pursuing a career in education.