Board of Ed. postpones school grade release

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma State Department of Education postponed the release of A-F school report cards Monday after the State Board of Education tabled a vote on accepting them.

Last week, dozens of superintendents voiced their concerns that the school grading formula didn't take at-risk students, who are difficult to teach, into consideration.

But the State Superintendent said the grading system is following the intent of the law that was passed last year; measuring growth.

"It's simply information for parents. It's simply information for the public to have," Superintendent Janet Barresi said Monday. "That's why I'm so surprised that 90 percent of the schools in the state will be getting a grade of C or higher, yet they have a problem with that."

Barresi said she is frustrated with school superintendents that compelled the Board of Education to unanimously vote to delay the release of the report cards.

The current formula takes into account student achievement, whole school performance and student growth.

However, the new calculation will involve the "bottom 25 percent growth" category.

The board voted for the Education Department to count not just those students who have shown improvement but those who are falling behind as well.

Adding those struggling students will lower the average student growth rate, leading to more students getting credit for growth.

That new formula could lead to higher grades for schools.

"How can that interpret to be growth because ultimately we have to look at a child that is struggling and how are we going to be able to help that child to be successful," Barresi said.

"We want growth of all of our students," Edmond Schools Superintendent Dr. David Goin said Monday. "We just want the measure that is established for growth to be one that is fair."

Goin said the current formula is overly ambitious and flawed because only 6 percent of the state's elementary schools would have received an A.

Just as a football team counts negative yards as well as positive yards gained, he said lowering the growth standard is a more accurate measure of a school.

"If that's going to help out and give a fair shot for students in that lowest quarter to meet the standard, then I think that's probably an appropriate thing to do," Goin said.

Oklahoma City Schools Superintendent Karl Springer said in a statement, "I appreciate that the OKSDE Board listened and will now have an opportunity to develop a fair, encouraging and transparent method of accountability."

State Board member Bill Price said recalculating these grades over the next two weeks will give the system more credibility but he doesn't think it will make a big difference in the grades schools receive.

The Board of Education will look at the new grades at their next meeting, Oct. 25.

Grades could be made public that day or they could postpone their release again.

OKCPS Superintendent Karl Springer released this statement:

“I am pleased that the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OKSDE) Board voted unanimously to delay the release of the A-F report cards for schools across the state. When more than 300 Oklahoma school superintendents voiced their concerns last week regarding how growth is calculated for our students, we hoped education leaders and the community would hear our trepidation and give the process a second look. I appreciate that the OKSDE Board listened and will now have an opportunity to develop a fair, encouraging and transparent method of accountability.”  

LINK: More info on the State's A-F grading system for schools.

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