EDMOND — Brenda McDonald knows her students' parents expected better.
McDonald, principal of Ida Freeman Elementary in Edmond, said she was extremely dissatisfied when she saw the C grade her school earned in the statewide school evaluation released last week by the state Education Department.
The grade the school received was the lowest in the district; Ida Freeman was the only Edmond school that scored below a B.
Schools were evaluated on student performance, student growth and whole school performance. In addition to the overall letter grade each school received, schools were assigned letter grades in five subject areas: reading, math, science, social studies and writing.
Ida Freeman's core classes grades were as follows: writing: B, math: C, science: C, reading: C and social studies: F.
“I think we were all very disappointed,” McDonald said. “I have a great group of teachers, students and staff; this is not what we expected.”
Amanda Boulden, whose daughter is a fourth-grader at Ida Freeman, said she was surprised by the grade because she has always thought highly of the school and its teachers.
“We love Ida Freeman and we have friends that have kids in other schools and they always say how they like the sound of our school,” Boulden said. “I'm just kind of blown away it was so low.”
McDonald said she learned of her school's grade in August and immediately went to work trying to improve the areas that needed it most.
McDonald said the F is social studies was likely because of a circumstance last year when one of her three fifth-grade teachers' short term absence turned into a longer one, which resulted in a substitute teacher leading the class for an extended period.
This year, the school is trying to preach stability and has a science and social studies coordinator to work with teachers and students to help them catch up.
Edmond Superintendent David Goin said while it was disappointing to see the low grade from Ida Freeman, he's confident the grade will rise.
“We are just taking this as an opportunity to look into the situation and better serve the students and parents of our school,” he said. “Even if the grades had been great across the board, we would've looked into that to see how we could sustain that success.”
Goin said the issue with the substitute teacher is a rare circumstance, but now the district knows to carefully look at those situations.
“It just points out the significance that you can't afford a weak link,” Goin said. “The beauty of Edmond schools is that we have very few weak links but I think our best option is to look into our sub pool and find the very best people that will work with others at the school if we are ever in that situation again.”
McDonald said she isn't concerned with the pressure of keeping up appearances with the rest of the Edmond schools.
“We all just want the best education for our children,” she said. “There is no greater pressure or motivator than that.”
Contributing: Staff Writer Carrie Coppernoll