School Grading and Rewards Legislation Progresses in Legislature

Two bills working their way through the Alabama Legislature this session could pave the way for the State Department of Education to make it easier to identify and reward high-performing schools in Alabama.

HB588 would empower the State Superintendent to develop a grading system for schools in Alabama. HB585 would use the grading system to reward K-12 schools that demonstrate high achievement or significant gains.

The school grading bill, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, would require the State Superintendent to adopt a letter-grading system using the traditional framework of A, B, C, D, and F to mean:

   A = School is making excellent progress.
   B = School is making above average progress.
   C = School is making satisfactory progress.
   D = School is making less than satisfactory progress.
   F = School is failing to make adequate progress.

Criteria for the grading system would be developed by education stakeholders to ensure the grades reflect overall academic proficiency and academic improvements, while taking into account important indicators relevant to a school’s performance. These indicators will be consistent across all schools and could include student achievement scores, gains in scores, achievement gaps, and college and career readiness, among other things. Grades would be posted on the State Department of Education website and given to the parents and guardians.

The school rewards bill sponsored by Rep. Donnie Chesteen would create the Legislative School Performance Recognition Program. It also requires the State Superintendent to develop guidelines and make determinations for administering the program, but it would reward schools that either:

  • Demonstrate high performance by being ranked in the top 25% in the school grading system
  • Demonstrate “exemplary progress” improving the school’s annual ranking by at least a letter grade from year to year.

The school rewards bill is still in the House, but the school grading bill passed the House and on Wednesday was given a favorable report by the Senate Education Committee. In that meeting, the committee voted for a substitute version of HB588 that includes both the school grading and school reward provisions.

If the legislation passes, development and implementation of the programs would be based on the State Board of Education’s proposals for revising the current assessment and accountability systems. This plan was presented to the Board at the work session on April 26th.