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Jeb Bush promotes McDonnell school grading plan

Friday - 2/1/2013, 5:58pm  ET

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday enlisted a former Florida governor in his push for legislation to grade Virginia public schools on an A-to-F scale.

Florida implemented such a grading system in 1999, when Republican Jeb Bush was in his first year as governor. Bush, who joined McDonnell in a teleconference with reporters, said many underperforming schools had become complacent before the state starting giving them letter grades.

"It was a wakeup call," Bush said. "What happened was the number of D and F schools has dropped dramatically and the number of A and B schools has gone up."

Twelve percent of Florida's public schools got an A in 1999. By the time Bush left office eight years later, 53 percent got an A.

Other education reforms, including a constitutional amendment to reduce class sizes, were implemented during Bush's two terms but he said the easy-to-understand grading scale spurred community involvement in the schools and "had the quickest impact" on public education.

McDonnell called the proposed A-to-F grading scale a "simple but profound change" in the way Virginia rates schools.

"Our school grading system is just really not that clear," said McDonnell. "It's one that's couched in some bureaucratic and somewhat incomprehensible language for parents to understand. It doesn't do justice, and it doesn't provide clarity for parents."

He said giving schools the same grading system that's used for students will get parents more involved in improving the schools.

Many education associations oppose the proposal, which will be up for a vote in the General Assembly early next week.


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