PHOENIX (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Arizona’s public schools may not get letter grades this year from the state.

Schools get annual letter grades based on things like student performance and improvement on the annual state assessment, bilingual kids’ improvement in English and on the schools’ graduation rate, the Arizona Republic reports. The head of the Arizona Senate Education Committee and the Education Board have proposed suspending school letter grades until possible problems with the new test are worked out.

The Arizona State Board of Education approved a plan recently to allow schools to add student scores on tests like the ACT into the grading formula. Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards — which are based on the Common Core State Standards Initiative — will be the basis of the formula.

Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said she will introduce a bill that addresses the issue in coming days.

“We need to look at how the new test works and find any weaknesses with it,” Ward said.

Ward said she has not heard any opposition from parents or educators to suspending the grades temporarily. But some education leaders say adding the state’s new AzMERIT scores to the mix is too much, especially because teacher merit pay is based on the grades at some schools.

“We need to give schools a chance to catch their breath,” she said. “We are still going to have accountability. We are still going to collect data.”

In the interim, districts and charter schools will be allowed to come up with their own systems for teacher merit pay or bonuses, and for sharing information about student achievement with parents.

Christine Thompson, the Education Board’s executive director, told the Arizona Republic she expects the board to evaluate the entire school letter-grade system and possibly propose changes to it in the coming year.

“The board has said it wants to take a step back and take a look at the letter-grade system,” she said. “It may have gotten too complicated.”

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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