A-F grades for schools delayed
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Monday, October 08, 2012
10/08/12 at 2:52 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY - The state Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to delay a vote on releasing the first report cards of the new A-F grading system for all schools and districts statewide, until the board's regular Oct. 25 meeting.
The vote went against the wishes of State Superintendent Janet Barresi.
Board members agreed to delay the vote to further review the average state growth calculation - a major sticking point for about 260 school districts throughout the state.
"Fifty-seven percent of schools will get an A or a B. Don't let that get lost. This is a tool to tell you how we're doing. We're not against making schools better. I don't want that message to get lost. That is something to celebrate in this state," said board member Amy Anne Ford.
But board member Joy Hofmeister said: "We are in a position of public trust and their confidence in what is put out today. You can't unring the bell. but without restoring public trust on this issue, what good is the grade going to be?
"This is about positive growth. I just don't understand how we will
figure in someone who has negative growth or who stays the same," she said.
Last week, about 200 school districts came together in a hastily
formed coalition to urge school board members to delay the release of the grades because they said the calculations behind them skewed the results.
As of Monday morning, almost 300 school districts were represented and about 75 percent of the state's student population, Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard told the
"I find it insulting for people to say that we're trying to hide from
low scores. It's about fairness," he said.
After the meeting, Ballard said he was satisfied with the board's
decision and will work closely with department officials to address the
The coalition of more than 260 superintendents from public school districts throughout the state formed in the last week. Many gathered in Oklahoma City on Thursday for a press conference to announce they had "no confidence" in the calculation of new A-F school grades.
The school leaders, who represent communities large and small, rural and urban, affluent and poor, have said they felt compelled to stand together to reject claims that they are disgruntled, politically motivated or even opposed to accountability.
The coalition representatives said a "complex manipulation of numbers" was used to arrive at what Barresi and other officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Education are presenting as simple and straightforward report cards, similar to the ones students receive.
A common concern among school leaders is the fact that schools will not be graded according to the same 4.0 scale that is used for grading students.
For students, 90 percent or better earns an A grade, and a 3.6 grade point average on a 4.0 scale is an A average. But under the state's new grading system, a school needs a 3.75 GPA, or 93.75 percent, to be deemed an "A" school, officials said.
But the issue that was described by superintendents as "the most onerous" aspect of the state's calculation method was ultimately the linchpin with the state board of education members.
The bar against which every school has been measured for years has been an average of all students' achievement rates, but state officials calculated the new grades using an average of only students who made gains on state tests.
Check back at tulsaworld.com as more information becomes available.
View our new website dedicated to education in the state
State Superintendent Janet Barresi