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Virginia House Passes Plan That Would Grade Schools A Through F

Vienna's Del. Mark Keam votes against measure that would give all schools letter grades.

By Samantha Morgan, Capital News Service

Gov. Bob McDonnell praised the Virginia House of Delegates after legislators bassed a bill Monday he said would provide a simpler way to understand a school’s performance and the state’s accreditation system.

Delegates voted 54-40 to approve House Bill 1999, which would require the Virginia Board of Education to grade each school on an A-F scale.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Thomas “Tag” Greason (R-Landsdowne), is part of McDonnell’s K-12 legislative agenda. 

Under the bill, the board would develop a grading system for all schools by Aug. 1.  The letter grade would be given in addition to the state’s more detailed standards of accreditation for individual school performance.

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“I was pleased by the bipartisan support in the House of Delegates for our common-sense plan to bring more transparency and accountability to Virginia’s public schools. I encourage my friends in the Senate to support this legislation that will provide a simpler way to understand a school’s performance on the state’s accreditation system,” McDonnell said.

The senate also passed a similar bill Monday in a 40-0 vote.

During a conference call with reporters on Friday, McDonnell called upon Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, in an effort to rally support for the letter-grade plan. During Bush’s first term in office, the A-F grading system was implemented in all Florida public schools

McDonnell said the grading scale was a tool parents and families can use to "advocate for and achieve better schools for their communities."

"If we aren’t giving students in every ZIP code the opportunity for a world-class education, we have failed them," he said.

Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna) spoke out against the system in a town hall meeting last month in Vienna.

He voted against the proposal as a member of the House Committee on Education.

”I don’t think we need to be stigmatizing schools children go to,” Keam said, noting things like transportation aren't graded, adding, “I'd like to see some off-ramps that get some Fs.”

Do you think your child's school should be graded? Let us know in the comments.

Patch Editor Erica R. Hendry reported for this story.

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