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Oklahoma Education Board waits to release controversial A-F school grades

The Oklahoma Education Department planned to release grades for schools throughout the state Monday, but the state Board of Education quashed those plans. The new evaluation system gives nearly 1,750 school sites in the state a letter grade of A through F.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: October 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012

“If the state average is negative growth, and that student has positive growth, that means something,” Board Member Brian Hayden said.

Board member Joy Hofmeister agreed: “And that means something to their parent, their teacher, their school and their community.”

State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said it wasn't good enough.

“If you have a student that is unsatisfactory one year and remains unsatisfactory, let's talk about that,” Barresi said. “How is that child going to be successful in life?”

System was meant

to be easy

The A-F grading system replaces the previous assessment tool.

The Academic Performance Index gave schools a score on a 1,500-point scale mandated by No Child Left Behind, which no longer applies to Oklahoma because of a federal waiver granted to the state this year.

In addition to the overall letter grade each school will receive, schools also will receive letter grades in five subject areas: reading, math, science, social studies and writing.

Letter grades also will be given to each district and the state overall.

One of the goals of the A-F reform was to give parents and the public an easy-to-understand snapshot of how schools are performing. Board member Gen. Lee Baxter said the complex formula for calculating the grades may not fulfill that mission.

“I'm just concerned about whether or not it's right,” Baxter said.

“I know it's not easy, and we said it would be. We said it would be something everybody could understand. I can't. I can't get through it. Analytically, I can't get through it.”

But board member Bill Price said the intricacy of the formula is a trade-off.

“That's one of the problems generally in doing this,” Price said.

“The more you introduce fairness, the more you increase complexity. That's the nature of it.”

Barresi said adjustments will be made to the formula and data collection process as needed in the future.

“Some of it needs to be adjusted in law,” she said. “Some of it needs to be adjusted in the rules.”

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