Barresi proposes changes in A-F school grading system
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 23, 2013
2/23/13 at 7:35 AM
State Superintendent Janet Barresi on Friday unveiled proposed changes to A-F school grading system rules to address some of the concerns voiced by superintendents, parents and state legislators.
"As always, my commitment is to a system that provides parents with information they can use to make the best educational choices possible for their children through a system of accountability and transparency," she said.
Under proposed changes, schools would get credit for each advanced course a student takes, the school climate survey would be eliminated and districts would have more time to verify data they send to the state.
"I'm pleased with the changes we are proposing to the A-F rule, and I understand that more changes may occur as we work through the public comment period and legislative session," Barresi said.
But the proposed tweaks aren't enough for many area educators.
"The proposed rule changes are alarmingly scant in reflection of the concerns raised by more than 300 school superintendents last fall," Sapulpa Superintendent Kevin Burr said. "And these changes are dramatically short of the complete overhaul suggested by the OU-OSU report last month."
Earlier this week, more than 25 superintendents asked in an emailed letter that Barresi officially respond to a joint study by University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University researchers that recommended scrapping the system and starting from scratch.
They say they still want that response and have heard nothing since the email was sent Tuesday.
"The (department) should respond to the researchers. Trying to keep a flawed process by nibbling around the rules is just more politics," Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said. "We should take the time to develop a purposeful, meaningful and useful system."
On Thursday, the House Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee voted to throw out the A-F rules in a House joint resolution offered by Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne.
That bill will need to be approved by the full House and Senate for passage. Gov. Mary Fallin could veto the bill, but Blackwell said there would likely be an attempt to override the veto.
"Rather than just trying to patch and tape and fix, I thought it would be better to just wipe the slate clean and start over with a new set of rules," particularly after the research documented fundamental flaws with the system, he said.
Indiana is on track to repeal its A-F school grading system after its Senate Education Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to create a new system to track school achievement.
"Interestingly, Indiana leaders recognized the fallacies associated with attempting to apply grades to schools and threw out the entire A-F concept earlier this week," Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman said. "If Oklahoma leaders are wise, they will follow Indiana's example on A-F."
In addition to proposed A-F changes, Barresi said she will seek new legislation to change the definition of students who constitute the bottom 25 percent of student achievers.
Instead of measuring academic growth based on the bottom 25 percent of students who score "unsatisfactory" or "limited knowledge" on state-mandated tests, it would reflect the true 25 percent of students scoring the lowest on those tests.
That component must be addressed through legislation because it is written into the statute, said department spokeswoman Sherry Fair.
To view the proposed rule changes, go to the state Education Department's website at tulsaworld.com/educationdepartment
The public comment period for the A-F Report Card rule will be open until 4:30 p.m. March 25.
Written comments may be sent to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Room 1-18, Hodge Building, 2500 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105 or submitted to email@example.com.
Public comments can be made in person at 10 a.m. March 25 at the department in room 1-20.
Original Print Headline: Barresi proposes changes in A-F system
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Janet Barresi: The state superintendent said the changes were in response to concerns of schools, parents and legislators