Pinellas questions school letter grades
Hours after the state board provided a safety net for school letter grades, Pinellas school officials questioned whether the grades belong in the district's plans.
The Pinellas school board met Tuesday to discuss, among other things, the system's strategic plan for the upcoming school year. Superintendent Mike Grego presented as a "stretch goal": "All Pinellas County Schools will be rated a “C” or above on the state grading system."
Pinellas school board member Linda Lerner raised her hand. "The state grading system of schools is unstable, complicated, changing," she said.
"Can't we as a district say we want all of our students to have 100 percent academic performance, and to make a year's growth in a year's time," without relying on state-provided measures, she asked. "Dr. Grego, I know why you have it in here. I'd love to have it out."
Grego responded that, like it or not, Pinellas is bound by the state's decisions. "We're in a volatile situation in terms of how they calculate it. I think we need to be a player, and be at the table."
Pinellas's focus on improving student achievement wouldn't change because of the benchmark, he said.
"It doesn't drive us but we hope it's the result of our work," said Grego, adding, "I do think it's lost some of the credibility, school grading."
Board member Peggy O'Shea agreed that strong school grades should remain a goal on the strategic plan.
"Since they're here and they're mandated I'm okay with leaving them in," O'Shea said. After all, Pinellas would be compared to other districts based on them, and good scores is "a good goal even if we don't agree with how it's done."