Educators ask Barresi for response to A-F school report card study
BY ANDREA EGER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 8:09 AM
Read the OU-OSU report on school report cards and see the grades for Tulsa-area schools.
Twenty-five superintendents from across Oklahoma are asking that State Superintendent Janet Barresi issue a formal response to the A-F school report card study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
In an email sent Tuesday, the school administrators said they hope to see a "planned response to meet any or all of the recommendations within the report," which was issued a month ago.
"It is clear that the recommendations meet the expectation (and can be incorporated as a part) of the A-F legislation currently in place," wrote Sapulpa Superintendent Kevin Burr.
"Our mutual interests are in developing a system of statistically, accurately and fairly analyzing schools and reporting that information to multiple stakeholders. I look forward to receiving your response and to the multiple improvements to a system that currently does little to achieve our mutual goals."
Barresi's spokeswoman declined to respond specifically Tuesday because a meeting with leaders of the superintendents' group has been scheduled for next week.
But Sherry Fair did say that "we are moving forward right now on recommending several rules changes based on feedback from superintendents and that Superintendent Barresi has received from local superintendents and on visits to various districts."
Norman Superintendent Joe Siano said the current grade calculations need more than tweaking.
"The work of the researchers studying the grades identified why contradictions are occurring in the SDE's calculations, and ... recommended a remedy," Siano said.
"The researchers found that there were such fundamental statistical problems with the state Department of Education's formula that valid and reliable results will not occur from merely tweaking it. When so many state laws are now tied to having reliable A-F grades, there is no compelling reason for Oklahoma to abstain from going back to the drawing board."
Edmond Superintendent David Goin said he wanted his name included on the letter because he wants the public to understand that superintendents are not opposed to accountability and school report cards.
"Just as accurate and defensible appraisals of students' work are expected, a system designed to grade the performance of schools should be held to high standards," said Goin.
"Independent and well-qualified research scientists at Oklahoma's flagship universities have concluded that there are significant flaws in the current system," he said. "Surely, their research and recommendations warrant a serious review.
"A timely response is important, especially since the Legislature is now in session and in a position to address this topic."
Broken Arrow Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall likened Tuesday's email to an olive branch.
"We need to have a response to a system that is completely flawed. How do we move forward without knowing where we're going?" he asked. "True assessment occurs over time - not one day, one test.
"This system is too laser-focused on testing rather than an authentic assessment system that truly tells patrons how we're doing. I believe the A-F grading system will define public education in Oklahoma for many years, so we must get this right."
After the state Board of Education approved the state's grade calculation methods in October over the concerns of more than 300 superintendents, the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council for School Administrators commissioned the analysis.
Authored by three senior research scientists from OU and two senior research scientists from OSU, plus four research associates from OU, the report found that Oklahoma's new A-F school grading system is "neither clear, nor comparable."
It also questions the statistical "validity, reliability and usefulness" of all three components of the new school report cards, which measure student achievement and growth and school performance.
The research was reviewed independently by Robert Linn, an education researcher at the University of Colorado, as well as by internationally known psychologist and psychometrician Robert J. Sternberg, who is an OSU professor and provost.
Barresi called into question the credibility of the research last week at a meeting in Tulsa when she told some parents that its authors had subsequently renounced their analysis in private.
But the report's authors denied her claim.
"I have no idea where that idea on the part of the superintendent came from," said Senior Project Coordinator Patrick Forsyth, professor of education and co-director of the Oklahoma Center for Education Policy at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. "We are perplexed by that and don't know what to make of it."
When contacted by the Tulsa World last week, Fair said Barresi's claim was a result of a misunderstanding.
Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard said the criticism in the research report should not be ignored the way his and more than 300 other superintendents' concerns were last fall.
"This is a highly credible report," he said. "We have said from the beginning there are significant issues with A-F, and now I hope they can be resolved through the legislative process.
"They really do need to understand we are serious about having input. We shouldn't be stonewalled."
Superintendents who signed the letter
Original Print Headline: Educators ask Barresi for response to A-F report
- Bob Drury, Altus Public Schools
- Gary Quinn, Bartlesville Public Schools
- Kent Shellenberger, Bethany Public Schools
- Kyle Wood, Bixby Public Schools
- Jarod Mendenhall, Broken Arrow Public Schools
- Mike McClaren, Claremore Public Schools
- David Goin, Edmond Public Schools
- Shawn Hime, Enid Public Schools
- Kirby Lehman, Jenks Public Schools
- Stacey Butterfield, Jenks Public Schools (incoming superintendent)
- Donna Campo, Liberty Public Schools
- Pam Deering, Mid-Del Public Schools
- Susie Pierce, Moore Public Schools
- Tony O'Brien, Newcastle Public Schools
- Ronda Bass, Noble Public Schools
- Joe Siano, Norman Public Schools
- Clark Ogilvie, Owasso Public Schools
- James White, Piedmont Public Schools
- Kathy Draper, Purcell Public Schools
- Lloyd Snow, Sand Springs Public Schools
- Kevin Burr, Sapulpa Public Schools
- Keith Ballard, Tulsa Public Schools
- Cathy Burden, Union Public Schools
- Joe Kitchens, Western Heights Public Schools
- Bill Denton, Yukon Public Schools
Andrea Eger 918-581-8470
Janet Barresi: Her office says she is looking at recommending some rules changes.