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Sunday
Feb172019

Stewart Bill to Create User-Friendly Program to Assess & Support Public Schools Headed to Senate Floor

SB 229 Eliminates Ineffective A-through-F School Grading System

Sen. Mimi Stewart’s bill to scrap the existing, ineffective A-through-F school grading system and replace it with a comprehensive, transparent school assessment tool that will move schools—and students—forward is headed to the full Senate for a vote after unanimously passing the Senate Public Affairs Committee on Friday.

“The current grading system is failing schools, students and parents,” Stewart said. “The convoluted and confusing grading system penalizes schools and leaves parents scratching their heads trying to figure out what is really going on at their child’s school. Our schools, our students and our communities deserve better. SB 229 directs the Public Education Department to throw out the old system and to create a new, transparent system that helps schools succeed.”

The new evaluation system will use student progress, improvement among English-language learners, student absenteeism and other measurable, meaningful data points to show how a school is actually performing and how it is supporting its students year over year.

“Our directions to PED are clear: establish a school assessment that gives an honest, accurate picture of a school’s performance and that helps struggling schools improve,” Stewart said.

A key component of Stewart’s legislation is the requirement that PED also create a “dashboard” to allow parents, teachers, community members and all stakeholders to easily find and understand a school’s standing.

“No one really knows what the current assessment system is actually based on and the criteria for success seem to be constantly changing,” Stewart said. “With this new system, clearly explained information about the assessment criteria and a school’s results will be available for anyone to see. Our schools, students and parents deserve an assessment tool they can understand.”

The repeal of the A-through-F grading system is a priority of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who, on her first day in office, made sweeping changes to public education assessment processes. The A-through-F system, however, was established by the Legislature and, therefore, can only be repealed through legislation.

SB 229 now goes to the Senate floor for a vote.

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A retired teacher, Senate Majority Whip Mimi Stewart has served two years as chair of the Legislative Education Study Committee. Prior to becoming a state Senator, Stewart served 20 years in the New Mexico House of Representatives, where she chaired the Education Committee. Stewart lives in Albuquerque. Learn more at www.mimistewart.org and follow her on Twitter @Sen_MimiStewart and on Instagram @mimistewart9.