School grading system ineffective for CUSD


Photo by Emma Kline

There is no distinction between STEM Scholar and Diploma.

As schools were graded on their AzMERIT test scores this fall just like the students who took the tests in April, the scores received by many schools, including those in our district, came as a shock.

Every high school in the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) has received a B grade, yet the district is one of the best districts in Arizona, holding the highest AzMERIT scores in the state. Students performed better than the mean score for the third year in a row.

According to Principal Dan Serrano, the schools are graded on multiple factors, and one of those factors includes progress on AzMERIT scores. Since the graders did not see any progress in regards to our already high scores, Perry, as well as its sister schools, did not get the points for progress.

CUSD was just ranked second in the nation, in regards to growth, by a study published by the New York Times. How is it fair that we receive a B grade when we have swept nationwide in the very area we were docked for: progress?

The system consists of four sections, in which three of the four Perry received A grades. However, in the section for progress seen in AzMERIT scores we received a lower grade.

Perry is not the only high school in the district to receive a B. Many of the CUSD high schools received a B, including Arizona College Prep, Hamilton, and Chandler, with Casteel and Basha still under review.

The reason why this system exists is so schools are held accountable for their performances. It prevents schools from doing the bare minimum. With a quantitative system, the grades are all based on numbers, leaving no room to slide through with poor performance.

Parents look for schools with a strong letter grade, and while our B-rating is not troublesome to those who know the district and its history, but for those coming from outside of the district or even Arizona, a less than perfect letter grade is not preferable. What parents should look at are the physical scores of the AzMERIT. Our school may receive a B, but that does not mean that our students performed averagely on the test.

Something to note is the ironic case of the woman who created the grading system. The creator herself owns a charter school in Arizona, a school that school received an F. She went on to complain that the system does not work, seemingly forgetting one important detail: it is her system.

So what is the leading force behind the ill-performing grading system? Her system. How should this problem be fixed? Amend her system or shut it down altogether. There is no reason to be punished for continual success on scores that truly matter.