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State Board of Education votes on new A-F system

OKLAHOMA - Members of the State Board of Education voted Thursday afternoon to adopt new standards for the A-F grading system used to rank schools in our state.

Our state began using the grading system five years ago, and it was supposed to be an indicator to parents of how well their child’s school is doing.

But, many complained the system was unfair and not an accurate representation of some schools.

Thursday’s change also came about because of a new federal mandate and state bill passed last legislative session, directing the Department of Education to come up with new accountability standards.

Despite the changes, many came to speak out at the meeting, saying the new system has flaws as well and it sets lower standards for some socio-economic groups.

“But, here’s who we don’t expect to succeed, according to these recommendations: low income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, black students, Hispanic students and native American students,” said Robert Ruiz with Choice Tomorrows for Kids.

“By saying that the poor white kids over here have a different standard than the rich white kids and the poor black kids and the rich black kids…” said concerned parent Timmy Young.

A 95-member task force spent the last several months coming up with the new standards.

An external consultant said student achievement in all groups is the same.

“We absolutely don’t want to hold kids accountable to different levels of performance based solely on demographic characteristics. That’s not what school’s about. That’s not what education’s about,” said Marianne Perie, the Director of the Center for Assessment and Accountability Research and Design at the University of Kansas.

The new criteria for schools is a combination of test scores and growth and graduation rates are added in for high schools.

And, a new standard of chronic absenteeism was added.

“There’s a strong research base that shows chronic absenteeism is associated with negative outcomes in the future. So, chronic absenteeism in kindergarten is associated with kids not doing well on the test in third grade,” Perie said.

And, Perie said it will actually be more difficult for schools to get an 'A' under this new model.

To see the board's presentation on accountability, click here.