Wake County education officials disagree with North Carolina school grading system

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On Thursday, parents across North Carolina will know if their child attends an 'A' school or an 'F' school.

On Thursday, parents across North Carolina will know if their child attends an 'A' school or an 'F' school.

For the first time in North Carolina, there will be a report card for school performance with grades handed out by the state. North Carolina joins more than a dozen other states that have adopted the system. The grades are based on student performance, such as on end-of-grade testing.

The system was adopted by state lawmakers to begin in the 2013-2014 school year.

In Wake County, school leaders don't support the system and instead released their own report one day ahead of the state report card.

"We have never believed assigning a single grade to a school makes much sense," said Superintendent Jim Merrill. "Our parents understand there is much more to a school than one grade can reflect."

Merrill has already seen the state grades and said in his State of the Schools address that the grading system "falls short of the margin."

In an interview before his speech, Merrill also said, "We just don't think it's satisfactory. It doesn't even come close to informing parents and community of what's really going on in their schools."

"We're giving a single grade to a school full of children," said Wake County School Board Chair Christine Kushner, who agrees with the superintendent. "It's based on an end of grade test, at the same time our legislative and state leaders have a task force that's reevaluating the validity of those standardized tests."

The progress reports from Wake County Public Schools are broken up into categories of grades, quality of faculty, teachers' views about the school climate, and leadership. All of this information is then compared to state and school district averages.

"We feel this is a credible, transparent, and logical way for parents to quickly appreciate the strengths and challenges of any school in our system," said Kushner.

Progress reports for all Wake County Public School System schools can be found on the district's website at www.wcpss.net/schoolreportcards.

Meantime, counties statewide are also bracing for the numbers. Some are expecting dismal results. In fact, just last month, Durham Superintendent Bert L'Homme warned that the county should prepare for mostly 'D's and 'F's. He pointed out though that those same schools surpassed growth expectations.

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