School district grades more of the same
BY World's Editorials Writers
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 3:15 AM
As if assigning individual schools letter grades weren't objectionable enough, the state Department of Education now has come along and done the same thing with school districts. It's a matter of adding insult to injury.
The school district grades were published Wednesday by the department. Of the 17 districts in the Tulsa area, 12 received a B grade, four received a C and one got a D.
And guess who got the D grade? Tulsa Public Schools, which, in the minds of many, seems to be a target for the state educational hierarchy.
The "report card" also graded the entire state's collective school system. Oklahoma public schools received a C grade.
These questionable value judgments come on the heels of grades released about six weeks ago for the state's 1,752 public schools.
Supposedly the TPS D grade is a reflection of the poor marks most of the schools in the district received. More than half of the district's 80-plus schools received either a D or an F in the individual schools report.
Seventeen Tulsa schools got a C, nine received a B, and three elementary schools got an A.
State Superintendent Janet Barresi said the district grades reflect "a continuation of our efforts to provide clear-cut, transparent information to the public, particularly parents, about the performance of their local schools."
Some districts, whose leaders had expected higher marks, were surprised by their grades. In response, a department spokeswoman explained that the district report cards are not an average of individual school grades.
Generally, the grades are based on a GPA derived from this formula: 33 percent student achievement, 17 percent overall student growth, 17 percent bottom quartile student growth and 33 percent whole school performance. Other findings, such as student attendance and graduation rates, were factored into larger district grades.
State education leaders have said the simple, one-letter grading system is meant to help parents and others determine which schools and districts need the most help.
And how does this humiliating process help? Parents - and just about everybody else - already know which schools face the most challenges. We already know that a large, urban school district has much more to cope with than newer, suburban districts. We already know that schools in poor neighborhoods have problems and issues that others don't face.
What's more, there already was plenty of factual and statistical data available to parents and interested parties on school performance before this misguided, overly simplistic system was adopted. Why adopt another evaluation system that's less meaningful and, in the view of many, just downright cruel?
Original Print Headline: 'C' for cruel