The Texas Senate has given preliminary approval to rating public schools statewide by letter grades A through F.
The proposal passed 20-10 Monday would issue grades based on student standardized test scores.
A floor change, however, means the bill won't take effect until the 2017-2018 academic year.
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It now needs only a final, procedural vote before heading to the House.
Senate Republicans say grades are easy to understand and will spur parents to force changes at failing schools. Campuses are currently rated on a "met standards" or "needs improvement" pass-fail system.
Texas has already approved implementing a letter-grade system for school districts, but not individual campuses.
Democratic opponents worry that attending an F-graded school could stigmatize students and say poor school ratings more reflect inadequate classroom funding than education quality.