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Grades for Students, Grades for Schools  

• Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Georgia A-F School Grading Graphic

Everyone is invested in the quality of their local school—from students to local businesses. And in Georgia, it just became easier to understand how well individual schools are preparing students for success.

Last month, Georgia released its first-ever A-F School Grades, meaning each public school (traditional and charter) earned an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” label from the Georgia Department of Education. At SchoolGrades.Georgia.Gov, you can find your school’s current grade, view its past performance (up to five years) and compare its results to other local schools or schools across the state.

Georgia’s easy-to-understand A-F School Grading System was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal last year, replacing an outdated, complex system that did not give a true sense of a school’s standing, progress or lack of it. The new system will fuel educational improvement by measuring student achievement and providing transparency and accountability.

More than a dozen other statesGeorgia’s A-F School Grades prioritize one of the top measures that matter: student achievement. It is imperative to clearly understand whether or not students are learning a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time, and how well schools are closing learning gaps between student groups.

A-F School Grading places excellence over complacency and inspires immediate change. The end goal of education should be to prepare students for success. No one likes an “F” or “D” grade—everyone wants an “A.” More than a dozen other states across the nation are already using A-F School Grades. These states have found that school grades create an urgency to improve learning and prompt entire communities to rally behind struggling schools. Georgians, too, will discover that A-F School Grading makes it easy for educators, parents and communities to take strategic steps to improve schools needing help.

Further, A-F School Grading provides a mechanism to recognize great schools. High-performing schools deserve a real, tangible sign of their excellence—whether they earned another “A” grade or improved from a “D” to a “C.” Public attention around school grades inspires pride in successful schools, encourages low-performing schools to replicate the work of those successful schools and ignites a healthy, competitive spirit among schools seeking to better serve our kids.

Simply put, for education to be its best, parents need a clear indicator of  how their child’s school is performing. Georgia’s new A-F School Grading System A-F School Grading is a proven, cost-effectivedoes exactly that. This simple system takes a vast array of measures and presents it in a way that parents and community members can understand.

Communities and parents expect great things for their children, and A-F School Grading is one proven, cost-effective tool to improve education and ensure each Georgia student graduates from high school ready to succeed.

I look forward to seeing Georgia refine this system to improve education and brighten the futures of children across the state.

Visit ExcelinEd’s Policy Library to learn more about A-F School Grading, or contact to learn how ExcelinEd can support your state.

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About the author

Christy Hovanetz, Ph.D.

Christy Hovanetz is a Senior Policy Fellow for ExcelinEd focusing on school accountability policies. Dr. Hovanetz served as the Assistant Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Education and Assistant Deputy Commissioner at the Florida Department of Education. She has worked in education policy for the state of Florida since 1999 serving as the Director of Evaluation and Reporting, Director of Reading First and a Policy Analyst for Governor Jeb Bush. She graduated summa cum laude from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in mathematics and is a certified teacher in the state of Minnesota. She earned her Masters of Public Administration at the University of Minnesota and a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University.