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Legislative Update: A-F Grading Scale and the Common Core Commission

Two pieces of education news to note so far this week from the General Assembly. The House passed a bill today that would extend for another two years the use of a 15-point scale for North Carolina school A-F grades. It was quick movement for a bill that was just given a favorable vote this morning in the House K-12 Education Committee.

The A-F grades came out for the first time in February and implemented a 15-point scale, meaning that an A is 85 to 100 and so on down the line. But for next year, that scale was supposed to shift to a 10-point scale. Under a 10-point scale, many of the state’s schools would have received worse grades. 

An identical bill was filed in the Senate in conjunction with the House legislation. One of the House bill’s sponsors, Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), said that boded well for the legislation’s continued movement through the General Assembly. 

“We do know this will get over and be heard in the Senate,” she said during the committee meeting. 

The Senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) asked at one point during the committee meeting for clarification on the House bill. He wanted to make sure it didn’t affect other bills that seek to change the makeup of the A-F grading scale. 

Right now, the grades are calculated based on 80 percent academic achievement and 20 percent academic growth. Bills have been filed seeking to change that ratio, including one from Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), which would reverse the ratio. 

Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) voiced his concerns with the current grading formula during the committee meeting, saying he wanted two separate grades. He likened the combination of growth and achievement to the unpalatable combination of Jello and mashed potatoes. 

Meanwhile, legislation to fund the Academic Standards Review Commission passed the General Assembly Monday after a final vote in the Senate and will now move on to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature. The Commission was created last session to replace North Carolina’s Common Core Standards but was not funded. The bill, if signed, will provide $275,000 for the Commission, which has been paying per-diem expenses with funds from the Department of Administration.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.