NOW what? That's the question everyone from school leaders to teachers to parents to community leaders to policymakers should be asking themselves after last week's release of A-F grades for the state's schools.
A few suggestions:
It's November. Weeks ago, educators had to review what student data they had to adjust instruction for in the current school year. That's been done and should continue to happen as schools deliver local tests that assess areas of strength and weakness.
We expect many schools have made or are making adjustments to science curriculum and instruction, since the state raised the standard for students to score at a proficient level. No doubt, schools also are continuing to look at early childhood literacy as they prepare students for the law that requires most students to read at grade level by the end of third grade or face possible retention.
What we don't want to see is continual public griping about the A-F system. School leaders have wasted enough time and energy on that. By all means, continue to push through normal channels to refine the system. Offer constructive input.
Parents should be asking what the data behind the letter grade means. What are the biggest areas of strength? Where is the largest opportunity for improvement? What's happening in the school to improve student achievement, and how can parents support that?
Community leaders (including those in the faith community) should ask the same questions of their local schools and then carefully consider the answers. Schools at every level can benefit from community involvement, whether it's a daily commitment or a once-a-year event.
School leaders must be prepared to answer the questions and have productive options for parents and those in the community who want to help. They can't afford to miss the opportunity to connect the community with their schools and students.