NC Superintendent falls for fake news on school grades

First it was Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, now it’s Superintendent Mark Johnson.

This week shoddy reporting that started with Raleigh CBS affiliate WNCN had folks all over the state convinced that state legislators were considering changing the grading scale used to measure student performance in school. According to multiple news outlets, the new scale would make 40% a passing grade for North Carolina public school students.

The bill under consideration in the General Assembly would actually do no such thing. It would merely extend the same 15 point scale used to calculate NC School Report Cards that has been in place for the past six years. The legislation has nothing whatsoever to do with student grades.

Last week Mark Johnson held a private event to launch his NC2030 plan, informing hundreds of legislators, educators, movers and shakers about his vision for the next decade in NC public education. Johnson’s plan calls for the 15 point scale to be continued, and it’s a move that would require legislative approval.

On Tuesday Johnson appeared on WLOS in Asheville to talk about his NC2030 plan which, let me remind you, calls for this exact change. But when the interviewer asked him about the school grades legislation, Johnson appeared to think the bill called for a change in the way we grade students:

Interviewer: The General Assembly talking about possibly making changes to the grading scale, lowering an A would now be an 85 rather than a 90. Talk about that. What are your thoughts on that?

Johnson: I need to talk to the members of the General Assembly who filed that bill. We were not involved in filing that bill. I’d like to know what their concerns are. I’d like to know where that came from. Obviously I have a concern, because a 90 to 100, that’s a big range for an A. And I don’t know that we necessarily want to make our grading scale less rigorous in order to get more students As.

There’s actually no need to talk to legislators to understand what’s going on here. All you need to do is move beyond the fake headlines and read the actual bill.

Johnson’s comments begin at about the 7:55 mark in the video. Hat tip to Raleigh teacher Kim Mackey for catching the SNAFU.

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