Education, Politics

Is Rep. Lisa Lyons Color Blind? When It Comes To School Rankings, Perhaps

Yesterday, the great State of Michissippi’s Board of Edjumacation released its convoluted Accountability Scorecard and Top to Bottom Ranking List. Each public school is ranked based on its Statewide Percentile Rank, and given a color (from best to worst: green, lime, yellow, orange, or red) to “help” the rest of the people who didn’t calculate the rankings figure out how well their local schools are doing.

How convoluted is it? Well, Rep. Lisa Lyons (R – Alto) was so troubled by it that she called for a new set of rankings, based on good old A, B, C, D, and E. Simple, no? So simple that it would, in effect, reduce the complex concept that is public education to one of five letters in the alphabet. Rep. Lyons didn’t explain how those grades would be calculated, but since it’s not her idea anyway (Seriously, did you think she came up with this on her own?), she can leave that to the folks who did:

The use of letter grading for school accountability is supported by national groups including Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education and StudentsFirst, the group headed by former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee.

Andy Solon, director of StudentsFirst-Michigan, said the organization believes letter grading for accountability is a “no-brainer.”

Yes, Andy, it’s a “no-brainer” because it doesn’t require any critical thinking on the part of those calculating the grades, those education reformers privatization supporters, or anyone in the editorial department of The Grand Rapids Press. Also, too, this little letter grading system was backed by former Indiana School Superintendent Tony Bennett, who left his heart in Kokomo to help Jeb Bush in Florida, then resigned because some intrepid journalists discovered Bennett had changed some charter schools’ grades to please the people who funded them. (Side note for future education reformers: You can always manipulate the data.)

But seriously folks (and, by the way, leave a comment if you’re still reading this), Rep. Lyons is correct (that was hard to type) about Michissippi’s Accountability Scorecard. To wit: a well-regarded school (Forest Hills Eastern High School) in a well-regarded district (Forest Hills) ranks at the 97th percentile in the state. That’s very impressive, right? Not when you look at its color code. FHE is a code ORANGE, one color above gloom and doom RED. Why?

Rep. Lyons can’t figure it out. If you’d like to take a shot a figuring out your district’s ranking, begin here.

Then let me know how a school in the 97th percentile is somehow performing at a lower color level than one in the middle of the pack.

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