ARKANSAS (KSLA) - This school year has proved to be a challenge for districts across the Ark-La-Tex, with the transition to in-person and virtual learning. Lawmakers in Arkansas are trying to relieve some of the stress with House Bill 1151.
John Ward, superintendent of Magnolia Arkansas Schools, says this is not the time to grade schools amid a pandemic.
The Arkansas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved House Bill 1151 to suspend the public school rating system for the 2020-2021 school year as a result of disruptions in class rooms due to the coronavirus.
Public schools normally receive a letter grade of A-F based on factors such as students test scores and graduation rates, but superintendents say this is not a normal year.
“We have no problem with accountability but this year it is so hard to compare apples with apples,” said Jason Sanders, superintendent of DeQueen Schools.
Sanders believes a pause in grading will benefit school districts across the state. He said this action will relieve some stress on school administrators and teachers.
“We are just doing a pause and once we get students back in a normal groove, we don’t have quarantine, we don’t have issues from this pandemic, then we can go back with everybody on the same level playing field. Then we can look at test scores and compare them across the state,” said Sanders.
Even though the letter grade for Arkansas public schools may be suspended, these superintendents say schools will still have accountability in giving students the best education possible.
“Our teachers are not focused on the letter grades. Our teachers are focused on teaching kids and that is exactly where it should be,” said Ward.
Arkansas House Bill 1151 was sponsored by Representative Brian Evans of Cabot.