More creative thinking about Oklahoma's A-F grading system for schools

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: December 31, 2012

The point of the A-F grades is to highlight successes and failures, thereby encouraging poor-performing schools to emulate the approaches used by higher-achieving counterparts. The beauty of the system is that everyone understands A-F grades and can easily make apples-to-apples comparisons — which parents are now doing. Notably, Willner and similar critics never felt the need to attack the old Academic Performance Index for schools, which the public largely ignored.

No one denies that children from stable homes with active parental involvement and middle-class income generally have a leg up on other students. But that doesn't mean we should dismiss low-income children from broken homes as being destined for academic failure. A major reason we have a public school system is specifically to provide educational opportunity to those students so they don't have to struggle as adults.

“With few exceptions,” Willner writes, “schools do not get to choose the parents of their students.” True, but a more common complaint is that a child's public school choice is determined by geography, not quality. That's why many parents, including struggling single parents, make great effort to ensure they live in a good school district to increase their children's chances of success. It's clear that parents disregard those who claim demographics are destiny and school management irrelevant when it comes to students' educational outcomes.

State policymakers should do the same.

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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