2019-11-27 ne-suburban_gradesg1

Correction: This story originally contained an incorrect description of near-grades of two schools in Owasso Public Schools. It has been corrected. 


Several schools in districts throughout the Tulsa area received lower grades in the second year of the modified Oklahoma School Report Cards.

A Tulsa World analysis found about half of nearly 140 traditional suburban schools experienced no change in their overall grade from 2017-18 to 2018-19. And while 11% of the schools increased at least one letter grade, another 26% had decreasing scores.

This decline coincides with a statewide trend in which 33% of Oklahoma schools saw their grade decrease by at least one letter. Only 16% of schools in Oklahoma saw improved grades.

The state’s latest report cards, which recently were overhauled to better reflect student achievement and school improvement, went live Monday afternoon at oklaschools.com. They’re displayed through an interactive dashboard that allows users to analyze and compare data with schools across the state.

In addition to assigning an overall grade to each school, the report cards now measure indicators for academic achievement, English language proficiency and chronic absenteeism. There are also indicators detailing academic growth for elementary and middle schools, as well as graduation rates and post-secondary opportunities for high schools.

Of the 22 suburban high schools included in the analysis, nine had declining grades. None saw an improvement. In contrast, three of Tulsa Public Schools’ 11 high schools went down a grade, while three improved.

At Broken Arrow Public Schools, only Sequoyah Middle School scored an overall D grade two years ago, but four did last year. Three Sand Springs sites, including Charles Page High School, received D’s last year, compared to one two years ago.

Union Public Schools had seven overall D’s in 2018-19, which was three more than in 2017-18. The Union 6th/7th Grade Center was among those that dropped to a D. Union High School, meanwhile, fell from a B to a C.

Todd Nelson, the district’s senior executive director of research, design and assessment, said a change in how the report cards measure graduation affected the high school’s grade. The state’s calculation for the graduation indicator was modified for 2018-19 to account for students who completed school in six years.

“Although our graduation rate did not drop, our grade did,” Nelson said.

He acknowledged the state has made some improvements with the latest version of its school report cards. But he also believes this new system still struggles to mitigate the effect of factors such as poverty and English learner progress in the assignment of letter grades.

Unlike a grade that a student receives in class, Nelson said, these grades are not a true reflection of the effort and expertise of teachers in their work with students.

“The grade doesn’t necessarily represent the progress that’s occurring in the lives of the students and the effort that the educators are giving to the process,” he said. “That is a bit frustrating.”

Owasso Public Schools received six B’s and six C’s in 2018-19, compared to 10 B’s and two C’s the previous year. Two schools narrowly avoided earning a B in the latest state report cards, said Margaret Coates, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

District officials expected a drop in some of the report card indicators, which would impact a school’s overall grade, because of their state testing results. Fourth-grade students, who took the assessments online for the first time last year, did not perform as well as expected.

But Coates said Owasso is focused on better preparing students for the fourth year of the Oklahoma School Testing Program. With improved student proficiency, school report cards should take care of themselves.

“Our focus really has been just on a continuous improvement plan,” she said. “It’s not necessarily in response to the report card grades, but that’s the culture of Owasso Public Schools. We need to continue to improve and make progress in academic achievement at all times, no matter what our grades are.”


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A Tulsa World analysis found about half of nearly 140 traditional suburban schools experienced no change in their overall grade from 2017-18 to 2018-19. And while 11% of the schools increased at least one letter grade, another 26% had decreasing scores.

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Kyle Hinchey

918-581-8451

@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @kylehinchey

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