While Oklahoma's academic standards are among the best in the country, the state continues to lag behind in public school achievement and spending, a national report released Thursday shows.
Oklahoma received D grades for K-12 achievement and school finance, despite being ranked at or near the top for standards, assessments and accountability, according to the annual Quality Counts report by Education Week.
The report tracks key education indicators — including national exams — and grades the states on their performances and outcomes.
State Education Department officials said the results of the report were not a surprise given the number of recent education reforms implemented to better prepare students for the national tests.
“The grade confirms what we already knew, that we must change our approach to education,” state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said.
“Thankfully, our state leaders have already embraced this idea and have voted in a bold slate of education reforms that will prepare our children for college and career. While change is sometimes painful, the dividends for our children are worth the effort.”
Oklahoma ranked 41st in achievement, which measures student status, change and equity, and 44th in school finance analysis, which examines educational expenditure patterns and the distribution of those funds within states using data from 2011.
The state, however, receive A grades for standards, assessments and accountability, along with a B+ grade for transitions and alignment, which includes early childhood education, college readiness and economy, and workforce preparedness, according to the report.
Reforms adopted by Oklahoma in recent years include the Oklahoma Academic Standards; Third-Grade Reading; Teacher and Leader Effectiveness; and the A-F Report Cards. The reforms are in various stages of implementation.
“That's why we have set the bar higher, because we consistently perform below the national average on (national) exams,” said Tricia Pemberton, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department.
“We believe they are performing poorly because our standards are not rigorous enough.”
The spokeswoman said the new academic standards will better prepare students for college and career, and put Oklahoma students on par with their national peers.