Oklahoma Education Department delays release of A-F grades

Corrections, changes to controversial grading tool calculations force postponement of letter grades for every public school in state until November
by Tim Willert Published: October 26, 2013
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State education officials are delaying the release of A-F school report cards, but the griping about the state-required exercise has already begun.


“If you're going to come out with this new grading system than come out with a new grading system,” Oklahoma City School Board member Justin Ellis said Friday. “That's one of the reasons I came on board six months ago. I didn't think a D was good enough for our city and now it looks like we have quite a few F's.”

While school district officials already know the grades for their schools, this information hasn't been released publicly.

“In an abundance of caution, the state Department of Education is going to take additional time to guarantee absolute, 100 percent accuracy of the grades,” state Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said. “To say this has been frustrating is putting it mildly. The A-F report cards are too critical a tool for parents and communities to accept anything less than quality.”

Letter grades for every public school in Oklahoma were set to be presented to the state Board of Education for certification Tuesday, but problems with calculations delayed the release until sometime next month. The report cards are intended to measure how well schools are teaching their students, but they've been a lightning rod for criticism by educators.

“We don't put much stock in the A-F grades because they don't represent enough of what goes on in a school house to paint an accurate picture of how good a school is or isn't,” said Steven Crawford, executive director Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration. “We don't want to sound like accountability is not the issue here, but we don't believe it's very reliable, useful or valid.”

On Thursday, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard sent a letter home to the parents of roughly 40,000 students slamming the state Education Department for its handling of grade card calculations. He criticized the department for “dysfunction and ineptitude” in the process.

Barressi apologized

On Oct. 16, the state Department of Education posted the newest grade cards for public schools statewide to a secure website for school administrators to review. But school administrators all over the state reported finding that their school grades had been changed four, five and even six times over the first two days because of calculation errors by state education officials.


by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for FOXSports.com in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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In an abundance of caution, the state Department of Education is going to take additional time to guarantee absolute, 100 percent accuracy of the grades. To say this has been frustrating is putting it mildly. The A-F report cards are too critical a tool for parents and communities to accept anything less than quality.”

Janet Barresi,
State schools superintendent

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