He said he recognized the reports were likely to generate some backlash from parents and teachers as schools receive less-than-exemplary grades. But he said he hopes the conversation will focus on what can be done to improve and move forward, rather than finding fault with the methodology.
"I hope that it's not directed at school grading though, because the schools are performing where they are and we need to shed a light on it," he said. "We need to bring some clarity and some energy to the problems and we have to also say that there’s a lot of A's and B's out there. There’s a lot of great success taking place."
Park, answering a question about whether the average grade in the state will be a C, emphasized that no monetary reward or punishment is attached to the grades. She said the grades are intended to highlight successes and incentivize improvement and added that much like the grades students receive on their individual report cards, the connotation of a particular letter varies from person to person.
"I know at my house when a child came home with a C, I didn’t always meet that C with congratulations," she said. "For some people, A's are expected. For other people, A is amazing, joyous, a recognition very few people can attain."
Niederhauser said his intent was never to punish schools, but to give educators the tools they need to move the dial on student performance. He gave the example of Florida — which saw improvement in the scores of its lowest-performing students after implementing school grading — and said the focus of every school district, the State School Board and the Utah Legislature should be on helping each student succeed.
"I know that there will be some opposition, that there are certain organizations that don’t want to do school grading, but the results in other states, especially Florida, have been profound," he said. "Is this the end? No, this is only the beginning."
The state officie of education meeting can be viewed at state office's website.
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