OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Department of Education released unprecedented A-F school report cards Thursday, giving all schools in the state a grade of A, B, C, D or F, similar to grades given to students.
More than 90 percent of schools across the state received a grade of C or higher, with nearly 50 percent of those receiving a B.
Just before these grades were scheduled to be released two weeks ago, many school superintendents urged the State Board of Education to use a new formula to recalculate the report cards.|
It resulted in better grades.
But the Board of Education officials said Oklahoma needs a higher standard and they're now sticking with the original grading formula.
State Board Member Amy Anne Ford said, "If everybody in the state has an A or a B, does it really reflect the way we are? That's the question, because it has to reflect and it has to be accurate, or why bother?"
That's the reason the State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday morning to keep the original grading formula for the school report cards.
Ford said if Oklahoma is ranked 47 nationally in education, it shouldn't be easy to get an A.
"We're simply here trying to raise the bar to move the kids up the ladder," she said.
However, many superintendents believe the bar is now set unrealistically high because the report cards don't acknowledge even slight improvement from "at risk" students who are difficult to teach.
"I've been at it a long time," Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said. "I've never seen as much stress, strains and as many under-appreciated and undervalued teachers that are just getting it done every day."
Under the original grading formula, 9 percent of Oklahoma's schools received an A.
Under the new formula the superintendents preferred, that percentage would have increased to 12.7 percent.
The new formula also gave more schools a B (57.4 percent compared to 48 percent), but fewer schools would have received a C (24.5 percent compared to 34 percent).
But state officials are sticking with the first formula, saying it's more reflective of the law.
"We actually went back to the bill's authors and they stressed that it was about improvement that was important to measure," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said.
In a statement, Oklahoma City Schools Superintendent Karl Springer said "...we are deeply disappointed in the calculation. The current calculation does not adequately reflect the growth average of all students."
Norman Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano agreed saying, "To not properly account for the academic growth of all students from one year to the next on the state's grade level tests is not only inappropriate, it runs counter to the very intent of the law that mandated the grades in the first place: to provide the public a transparent, fair and easily understood method for reporting school performance."
However, Gov. Fallin supports the State Board of Education's vote, saying in a statement, "...these report cards will have their detractors. Ultimately, however, this is about what is fair and right for Oklahoma's children who deserve to attend schools with high standards and transparent measures of success."
State Board of Education officials said this grading system handed out better grades to all schools than the "No Child Left Behind" formula would have given them.