Legislature Targeting ‘A-F’ State Law That Requires Michigan Public Schools to be Accountable and Transparent

Our state Legislature is taking troubling steps to make Michigan public schools less accountable and transparent to parents and taxpayers.

The state House has approved House Bill 4166, which would repeal a law that requires the state to publish easy-to-understand A-F letter grades for all Michigan schools based on each school’s performance.

The common-sense law uses five key performance indicators, including English and math proficiency on state exams, English and math growth scores, growth amongst English language learners, and high school graduation rates and academic performance compared to similar schools.

Along with benefiting parents, our A-F system helps schools identify weaknesses so they can better educate students. Michigan students undoubtedly need help. M-STEP scores from 2022 reveal that 58.4% of third-graders failed the state’s English language arts (ELA) proficiency test, and only 28.6% of sixth-graders and 42.3% of third-graders tested proficient or above in math performance. Additionally, only 41.6% of third-graders passed the state’s English language arts test.

Although supporters of HB 4166 say there already is a federal metric in place to assess school performance, the federal system is a convoluted and confusing mess that makes it difficult for parents to truly understand how well their local schools are performing. A simple A-F rating is an intuitive way to empower parents and taxpayers while encouraging schools to improve.

Having an effective state school system is essential to improve our economy and help Michigan become a top ten state economically. Parents also have an inherent right to know how their local school is performing.

We have been raising concerns around the importance of A-F benchmarks for the past year. Mark Murray, executive committee of the board member, president of Meijer, and past president of Grand Valley State University, addressed mastery vs. proficiency and how A-F is the right measure of success in the Detroit News and we shared how Michigan is failing its K-12 students in previous blogs and at our biennial policy conference. Now is the time to put these discussions into practice to protect our education system.

Please contact your local legislators and tell them to keep our schools accountable and transparent to parents and taxpayers. Our current A-F accountability system must be protected.