Yesterday Governor John Kasich signed into law House Bill 555, which replaces the current academic performance rating system for school districts and individual buildings of districts. The new rating system will assign letter grades of  “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” for overall academic performance, a change from the current ratings of “excellent,” “effective,” “continuous improvement,” “academic watch,” and “academic emergency.” The grade for overall academic performance will be calculated based upon specified components and performance measures that will also be assigned individual letter grades.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish a method to assign an overall grade for the 2014-15 school year and each following year. The method must grade each individual performance measure, which will then be grouped into one of the following larger components: gap closing, achievement, progress, graduation, kindergarten through third-grade literacy and prepared for success (the performance measures in the “prepared for success” component do not receive separate grades.) Each component will then be individually graded based upon the performance measures in its group. Only the resulting component grades will be used by the State Board to determine the overall grade.

The following meanings are attributed to each of the letter grades:

A-    Making excellent progress

B-    Making above average progress

C-    Making average progress

D-    Making below average progress

F-   Failing to meet minimum progress

The bill incrementally increases the number of graded and reported separate performance measures in each of the 2012-2013 through 2014-2015 school years. For 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, letter grades will be assigned only to specified individual performance measures. An overall letter grade will be assigned beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.  The bill also applies to community schools, STEM schools, and college-preparatory boarding schools.

ERF will continue to update its clients on this legislation and the State Board of Education’s eventual establishment of a method to assign an overall grade for the 2014-15 school year.