SB 229 Eliminates Failing A-through-F School Grading System

Sen. Mimi Stewart’s bill to scrap the existing, ineffective A-through-F school grading system and replace it with a comprehensive, transparent school assessment tool that will move schools—and students—forward received concurrence from the Senate Friday evening after the House of Representatives earlier in the day passed the bill by a vote of 48-16. SB 229 is now headed to the governor.

“The current grading system is failing schools, students and parents,” Stewart said. “The convoluted and confusing grading system penalizes schools and leaves parents scratching their heads trying to figure out what is really going on at their child’s school. Our schools, our students and our communities deserve better. SB 229 directs the Public Education Department to throw out the old system and to create a new, transparent system that helps schools succeed.”

The new grading system will use student progress, improvement among English-language learners and other measurable, meaningful data points to see how a school is actually performing and how it is supporting its students year over year.

“Our directions to PED are clear: establish a school assessment that gives an honest, accurate picture of a school’s performance and that helps struggling schools improve,” Stewart said.

A key component of Stewart’s legislation is the requirement that PED also create a “dashboard” to allow parents, teachers, community members and all stakeholders to easily find and understand a school’s standing.

“No one really knows what the current assessment system is actually based on and the criteria for success seem to be constantly changing,” Stewart said. “With this new system, clearly explained information about the assessment criteria and a school’s results will be available for anyone to see. Our schools, students and parents deserve an assessment tool they can understand.”

The repeal of the A-through-F grading system is a priority of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who, on her first day in office, made sweeping changes to public education assessment processes. The A-through-F system, however, was established by the Legislature and, therefore, can only be repealed through legislation.

A retired teacher, Senate Majority Whip Mimi Stewart has served two years as chair of the Legislative Education Study Committee. Prior to becoming a state Senator, Stewart served 20 years in the New Mexico House of Representatives, where she chaired the Education Committee. Stewart lives in Albuquerque. Learn more at and follow her on Twitter @Sen_MimiStewart