Tulsa lawmaker calls for expert input on school grading
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2013
1/26/13 at 5:06 AM
A freshman lawmaker said Friday that the state's new school grading system isn't working and called for the involvement of data experts to help develop one that would produce reliable information that schools can use to guide improvement.
State Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, said she would begin addressing the subject in a meeting next week with state education leaders.
"These are not C and D and F schools. I just want you to know that I and almost everyone here recognizes the amazing work that is going on," said Henke, who previously taught at several area private schools. "I feel like we need to have a collaborative effort moving forward. I think it's been a little one-sided. We need to recognize the system is not working, and we need to all work together."
The Tulsa school board, which hosts a special meeting for legislators each year, met with lawmakers Friday at Zarrow International School.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard referred to a newly released report from research scientists at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University that criticizes Oklahoma's A-F report card system for public schools as "neither clear, nor comparable."
"Put in a fair A-F system. We have never said we are opposed to A-F. We have never said we are opposed to assessment," he said. "It is now a well-known and proven fact that the system is absolutely flawed - 300 superintendents with no formal organization told you, 'This is wrong.' "
The independent researchers questioned the statistical "validity, reliability and usefulness" of the state Department of Education's new accountability measures for student achievement and growth and school performance.
Other hot topics, such as state aid for public schools and new legislation, came up, as well.
State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, said he applauded state Superintendent Janet Barresi for seeking $37.7 million in supplemental appropriations from the Legislature.
He has introduced legislation that would add five days to the school year to help reduce summer learning loss, although he noted that the $150 million estimated cost would probably doom it.
New state Reps. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, and Terry O'Donnell, a Republican whose District 23 encompasses parts of east Tulsa, Catoosa and Verdigris, said education was one of the chief concerns of voters they encountered on the campaign trail.
Ballard offered an overview of the host of reform efforts that he has overseen during his nearly four years as superintendent, including an overhaul of alternative education, the development of a new teacher evaluation that is now used in 500 other districts across the state, and a consolidation effort that shuttered about 15 schools but led to extensive upheaval.
"You can't shift 60 percent of your kids without having repercussions. We are working diligently, and we have really narrowed our focus on reading and math," he said. "We do understand we have a sacred obligation to the children of this city.
"When 88 percent of kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, the only way out of that is through education," Ballard said. "We want to be your partner. We may not agree on everything, but we will treat you with respect and we would hope that you would treat us with the same."
Original Print Headline: Lawmaker calls for expert input on school grading
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard: "Put in a fair A-F system."