Skip to main content

Making the Grade: Debating School Performance Ratings

Event Details

January 11, 2018

Making the Grade: Debating School Performance Ratings

Phillip Lovell
, Vice President of Policy Development and Government Relations, Alliance for Excellent Education
Michael J. Petrilli
, President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute

On Januray 11, 2018 the Alliance for Excellent Education held a webinar on school performance ratings.  When it comes to school accountability, education advocates tend to split into two camps. One camp believes that, just as students receive grades on their performance, schools should receive a single summative rating—A–F letter grade or a score of 0–100—on a performance index. Doing so, they believe, provides parents and the public clear, transparent, and actionable information on a school’s performance and puts necessary pressure on the education system to drive improvement in its most underserved schools.

The other camp believes that school performance is too complex to be boiled down to a single figure, and worries that these summative ratings provide insufficient information to parents and stakeholders to inform continuous improvement in low-performing schools.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute recently released Rating the Ratings: An Analysis of the 51 ESSA Accountability Plans. The report examines rating systems submitted by all fifty states and the District of Columbia, grading them on how clear their rating systems are, whether they incent a focus on all kids, and whether they weight growth along with performance for schools.

This webinar presented findings from Rating the Ratings, followed by a conversation on the merits and downfalls of summative ratings between ratings-proponent Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, and ratings-skeptic Phillip Lovell, vice president of policy development and government relations at the Alliance for Excellent Education.

This was not your typical panel where each participant agrees with the next; watch the webinar for a lively discussion.

Supplemental Resources

Please direct questions concerning the webinar to If you are unable to watch the webinar live, an archived version will be available at approximately 1–2 business days after the event airs.

The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, DC–based national policy, practice, and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are historically underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship.

Follow the Alliance on Twitter (; Facebook (; and the Alliance’s “High School Soup” blog (

If you are interested in renting the Alliance’s facilities for your next meeting or webinar, please visit our facilities page to learn more.