TeachME Professional Development

Evaluating A-F School Accountability Systems

1. Although A-F grading systems are used in several states across the U.S., and will likely be adopted in more, there has been little credible research on whether letter grades validly measure and express school quality.

A. True

B. False

2. Proponents of the A-F school grading system report each of the following as strengths of such a system EXCEPT:

A. Letter grades provide clear and simple information about school performance

B. This type of system empowers parents and citizens to participate in decisions about schooling

C. School report cards are used as a means to encourage students to perform to their potential as they acknowledge that school performance is a reflection on them

D. Letter grades drive school improvement


3. Three recommendations that have been offered by researchers who examined the validity of one state's school report card systems are eliminating the single grade, which cannot be composed without adding together unlike elements and promoting confusion and misunderstanding, developing a report card format that uses multiple school indicators that more adequately reflect a school performance profile, and:

A. Including central causes of aggregate school performance, such as community, family and school resources as evaluation measures

B. Promoting a system that rewards a healthy school environment that encompasses diversity and civic engagement

C. Enabling democratic deliberation over the many possible purposes of schooling in a democratic society before determining assessment criteria

D. Enlisting the services of assessment and evaluation experts in designing school accountability systems


4. Measures used to determine A-F grades for schools vary by state but often include graduation rates, ACT/SAT participation and scores, standardized student achievement test scores, growth in academic test scores, and attendance rates.

A. True

B. False

5. Typically, A-F school grading systems incorporate processes that allow parents and students to make choices about leaving one particular school for another, and taking funding with them, which is known as performance liability.

A. True

B. False

Rationales: What Claims are Made for A-F Systems?

6. Students First, a visible and active private organization that advocates for more A-F system accountability, now assigns grades and GPA scores to states based on the extent to which they elevate the teaching profession, spend wisely and govern well, and:

A. Encourage community involvement

B. Empower parents

C. Promote citizenship

D. Meet goals and expectations

The Validity of School Report Cards as a Measure of School Quality

7. One of the fundamental problems with the letter grades is that they ignore the well-documented correlation between socioeconomic status and attendance and graduation rates, and they attribute academic proficiency changes directly to schools that students attended only most recently.

A. True

B. False

The Validity of School Report Cards as a Policy Instrument

8. A recent study supporting the validity of the A-F grading system found that parents residing in states with more developed assessment systems express significantly higher trust in government, substantially increased confidence in government efficacy, and much more positive attitudes about their children's schools.

A. True

B. False

9. When testing is used as one of the factors that is incorporated into the A-F grading system, two requirements for fairly implementing high-stakes testing must be that all students are taught in conditions that provide a fair opportunity to learn, and that:

A. The validity of reporting categories be established

B. Students should be given tests that meet the intended purpose

C. The means for selecting the content and skills to be tested and how the tests were developed is clearly stated

D. The available evidence on the performance of test takers of diverse subgroups is evaluated

10. Growth measures, which measure the difference between student achievement at the beginning and the end of a given period of time, on the presumption that what happens in schools causes whatever differences exist, tend to neglect the role of social, cultural, and economic factors outside of schools, as well as of the policies, practices and resources of schools, all of which play a significant role in producing those outcomes.

A. True

B. False

The Validity of School Report Cards as a Democratic Assessment Framework

11. Which of the following is NOT one of the educational outcomes that should be included in all A-F grading systems in order to foster an effective democratic citizenry?

A. Civic engagement

B. The ability to engage with diverse others in authentic deliberation

C. Understanding beliefs to be revisable and indeed revising them in light of contradictory evidence

D. Representative individuality, which refers to the knowledge, abilities, and dispositions needed to participate in democratic deliberation

Conclusions and Recommendations

12. One final recommendation to improve the current A-F grading system is to enlist the services of marketing and apportionment experts to design school accountability systems.

A. True

B. False

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