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Oklahoma City school district fails to make grade

Only 28 of 93 schools in the Oklahoma City district managed to improve or stay the same in the A-F grading system. Overall, the district received an F; last year it received a D.
by Tim Willert Modified: November 7, 2013 at 12:59 am •  Published: November 7, 2013

The controversial A-F report cards were finally released Wednesday and more than three dozen schools in Oklahoma's largest school district received failing grades, up from one school the previous year.

Oklahoma City Public Schools received 39 Fs, 20 Ds, 14 Cs, 10 Bs and 10 As under a revised format that came under heavy criticism from educators across the state who contend the grades don't accurately reflect school performance.

“The overall results are clearly a disappointment for many students, parents and teachers who worked so hard to improve on the scores from the grading method used last year,” Interim Superintendent Dave Lopez said. “But we understand the law has set the higher academic standards and we also have higher aspirations as a community and a district.”

Of the district's 93 schools, 18 schools improved, 10 schools stayed the same and 65 schools decreased. Overall, Oklahoma City Public Schools received a grade of F. Last year the district's grade was a D.


Among those falling off was Webster Middle School, which received a failing grade.

“As a teacher, finding out that our school received an F was extremely frustrating because we worked extremely hard and so did our students,” said Janet Garrett, who teaches language arts to eighth-graders. “We did several things to try to raise test scores, and we're continuing to do so this year to make sure our test scores increase.”

Despite the discouraging news, Oklahoma City school district officials vowed to redouble their efforts to improve student performance by improving attendance and parental involvement.

“Obviously, we're not meeting the needs of every individual kid,” said Tamie Sanders, director of secondary schools and reform for the district. “We need to learn how to do that better.”

Attendance is the single most important factor in student achievement, Sanders said.

“Missed instruction equals missed opportunities,” she said. “We can't teach them if they're not here and that's the parent's responsibility.”

Not ‘cause for despair'

The grade cards for 1,785 individual public schools were certified by the state Board of Education on Wednesday and made public by the state Department of Education. District grades were posted briefly by mistake on the Department of Education website Wednesday, and removed. Spokeswoman Tricia Pemberton said those grades will be available “in a couple of days.”

Calculation errors delayed the release of the state's second-ever report cards and prompted heavy criticism of state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi and the department she leads.

“There are many more A schools in this year's report than there were last year, but there is a significant increase in D and F schools as well,” Barresi told a packed house near the state Capitol. “These grades are not surprising nor are they a cause for despair.”

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by Tim Willert
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 in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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