Delaying A-F grades for Oklahoma public schools impedes efforts to address shortcomings

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 10, 2012

Some administrators complain that too much weight is given to generating improvement among the lowest-performing students. However, there's good reason to place focus on those kids. Public schools don't exist just so well-to-do families can have a publicly funded alternative to private education. They exist so all children, including those growing up in challenging circumstances, have the opportunity to change their fate through learning.

Some administrators either don't understand this or don't agree with the core mission of public education. The call to substantially downplay at-risk students in school grade calculations is an example of what former President George W. Bush rightly labeled the “soft bigotry of low expectations.” Oklahoma should soundly reject this attitude.

Oklahoma's education system needs improvement. National Assessment for Educational Progress scores show Oklahoma ranked 40th among the 50 states in fourth-grade reading, 41st in eighth-grade reading and 38th in math for fourth- and eighth-graders. School administrators bear much responsibility for those substandard performances. Their motive for opposing easy-to-understand grading of schools is transparent.

We can do better. We must. The school grading system isn't a silver bullet, but it will increase public awareness of school problems and incentivize much-needed improvement. It will result in a higher-quality education, benefitting all students with an impact that lasts for decades.

If the price of improvement is that highly paid school administrators feel the heat, then so be it. That's a trade-off Oklahomans should embrace.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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