Q: What is A to F?
A: A new state law requires the state Education Department to evaluate schools and assign letter grades. Schools are evaluated on student performance, student growth and whole school performance. In addition to the overall letter grade each school receives, schools also will receive letter grades in five subject areas: reading, math, science, social studies and writing. Eventually, letter grades also will be given to each district and the state overall.
Q: What did it replace?
A: The A to F grading system replaces the previous assessment tool: the Academic Performance Index. API gave schools a score on a 1,500-point scale mandated by No Child Left Behind, which no longer applies to Oklahoma because of a federal waiver granted to the state this year.
Q: What happens if a school gets a high or low grade?
A: Nothing. The grades are designed to inform parents and the community of how well schools are doing. The grades aren't tied to funding.
Q: How else are schools evaluated?
A: Federal officials require the state Education Department to evaluate schools based on a system of designations, such as “priority” and “high-performing reward.” Not every school in the state has a designation under the federal system, though designations can affect federal funding. The A to F grades are not tied to the federal evaluations, though both systems have similar metrics and some grades and designations overlap. The federal designations will come out this year. Also, some federal grants still require schools to report an API score, so state officials calculate scores for certain schools.