From: CenturyLink Customer
To: Ann Millner, Steve Urquhart, Jim Dabakis, Wayne Niederhauser, Mark Madsen, Jerry Stevenson, Howard Stephenson, Marie Poulson, Michael Noel, Carol Moss, Daniel McCay, David Lifferth, Eric Hutchings, Greg Hughes, Francis Gibson, Justin Fawson, Steve Eliason, Kim Coleman, Lowry Snow, Brad Last, LaVar Christensen, LaVar Christensen, Wayne Niederhauser, Joel Briscoe, Jim Dabakis, Marie Poulson, Brian King, Curtis Bramble, Jerry Stevenson, Howard Stephenson, Daniel Thatcher, Lyle Hillyard,
Subject: SB149
Date: Sat Feb 20 02:17:38 MST 2016
Dear Legislators,

Re: SB149 – SCHOOL GRADING MODIFICATIONS   Chief Sponsor: Ann Millner.   This bill amends provisions related to assigning a letter grade to a school based on the proficiency, learning gains, or college and career readiness of the school's students, it  amends provisions related to the letter grade that is assigned to the percentage of  points earned under school grading.

    When I first heard about this bill, I worried about its intent, but upon reviewing the bill, I acknowledge that it is only adjusting the grading percentages which were adjusted down with the implementation of the SAGE testing.  So I don’t have major concerns about the bill.

    But I do have concerns about the practice of grading schools in the first place.  I wonder if our legislators are aware that each public school undergoes a regular major accreditation evaluation, which involves every function of the school, not just the science, English,  math classes, and graduation rates, and involves setting of goals to improve weaknesses, etc. 
    I question the purpose of the grading, feeling that it has more negative affect than positive.  I also question the way the schools are evaluated,  as all schools in the state are measured by the same standards.  More modern evaluation procedures include factors of socio-economic status, the education of parents, the size of schools, where the schools are located, teacher qualifications, experience of teachers, the importance of education to the students, etc.  A fair grading system would likely give a Title I school an A grade, where this system would at best give the school a C grade, a Title I school a C grade where this system would at best give the school an F grade.
    And I look at the things being measured, and wonder how much our state and our school districts are now spending for testing students, and collecting and evaluating data on each student, money that could be used for improving teaching conditions in the classrooms.
    Modern studies also point out that the main ingredient of successful schools is the quality and training of teachers.  Every school needs the best teachers possible, not only in the core classes, but in all of the classes: arts, technology, vocational, physical education, etc.  So  if grading schools actually does do some good in some ways, as our state is never going to properly pay the teachers, our state should at least be doing everything it can to improve teaching conditions, so that good teachers who want to be teachers so bad that they will accept the lower wages, will want to come to our state to teach, and once here will want to stay here.

Fred Ash, URSEA Legislative Chair