Legislature passes school grading and performance bonus bill

PRESS RELEASE

MONTGOMERY
– A plan to bring unprecedented accountability to Alabama's education
system and provide cash incentives for schools to improve performance
today received final passage in the Alabama Legislature.

House
Bill 588, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) was written to
establish a simple, comprehensive and consistent system to grade school
performance, allowing parents and community leaders to better understand
how their local schools are faring. When the bill went to the Senate,
Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh (R-Anniston) took it a step
further by combining his proposal to set up a school performance bonus
system to incentivize improved student achievement.

“Incentivizing
high achievement is a common sense way to improve education from the
ground up,” said Sen. Marsh. “Top performers are recognized and rewarded
while low performers have a tangible incentive to do better. None of
this would be possible without a consistent grading system and I applaud
Rep. Collins for working to implement this unprecedented level of
accountability.”

“Today
we took a big step forward for education reform in Alabama,” Rep.
Collins said. “This bill will provide a comprehensive, consistent,
easy-to-understand evaluation of school performance and encourage more
parental and community involvement in local schools. If schools are
struggling, parents and community leaders need to know so they can find
ways to make improvements. I want to thank Senator Marsh and Rep. Donnie
Chesteen (R-Geneva) for including their school performance bonus
language in the bill. Ensuring accountability and incentivizing
performance in our schools are proven ways to improve student
achievement.”

Under
this bill, schools would be evaluated based on several performance
indicators such as state-authorized assessments, achievement gap,
college and career readiness and learning gains in a system implemented
by State Superintendent of Education. A universally-comprehendible
A-B-C-D-F grade would be assigned to each school and made public, and
all schools would be graded consistently so that grades of one school or
system may be compared to the grades of any other school or system.

Rep.
Collins began working with House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Senate President
Pro Tem Del Marsh and other lawmakers to develop the proposal after a
meeting with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who told them
implementing an accurate, consistent, easy-to-understand school grading
system was the single reform most responsible for Florida's
extraordinary gains in education.

Speaker Hubbard said Alabama would do well to learn from Florida's education story.

“Governor
Bush  had great success improving education in Florida, and it all
started with being honest with parents about school performance,”
Speaker Hubbard said. “He told us this one reform was the impetus for
improvements across the board because communities finally became engaged
in their public schools. I believe we'll look back years from now and
see this as a seminal moment for education reform in Alabama.”

The bill now goes to Governor Bentley for his consideration.

(SOURCE: Office of the Speaker of the House)