The following editorial was published Aug. 26 in the Austin Daily Herald.
Good intentions aside, a new star system for rating Minnesota's schools is still too incomplete to be taken very seriously by parents interested in a state report card for their children's schools.
The system, based largely on scores from one round of tests taken by third- and fifth-graders, assigns a star rating of one to five to every elementary school in the state. The fact that no stars were assigned to other schools is symptom number one that the grading system is incomplete. Even school officials still aren't entirely sure what the star ratings mean, but even if they did, the fact that the vast majority of the state's schools got a middle-of-the-road grade of three stars makes it hard to find any meaning or perspective.
The system is still in its first year, and will be refined and changed as time passes. Perhaps as it is tweaked and expanded, the system will provide more useful information to parents. The state should focus on making the system more clear and explaining exactly how different criteria fit into the overall grade. Where they go from here will determine if the star ratings become a valuable tool or merely an annual nuisance for schools.
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