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Oklahoma Education Department delays release of A-F grades

Corrections, changes to controversial grading tool calculations force postponement of letter grades for every public school in state until November
by Tim Willert Published: October 26, 2013

On Oct. 18, Barresi issued an apology to educators for “delay and confusion.”

Oklahoma City School District officials reported Friday that school grades have changed six times during the review period, which ends Monday.

Last year, the district got an overall grade of D.

“What I don't understand with them is why they send out the grade and it is continuously changed. Either tell us what it is or what it isn't,” Ellis said. “We're prepared to make the changes to our academics, but give us the grade.”

Fellow Oklahoma City School Board member Bob Hammack said the report cards are unfair because they don't take socioeconomic factors into consideration.

“It's weighted heavily in the favor of the suburban schools at the cost of urban and rural schools,” Hammack said. “You tell me how a kid who didn't have dinner is going to do on that test.”

Approximately 90 percent of 45,631 students who attend Oklahoma City Public Schools, the state's largest school district, receive free or reduced-price meals.

Reports criticize grading system

According to an analysis by University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University researchers released earlier this month, Oklahoma's A-F school grading system masks the performance of poor and minority students, and in turn, may violate federal requirements for the state's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act.

The authors also claim that the most recent attempt to improve the school grading system by the Oklahoma Legislature failed to address the most serious problems with it.

“When letter grades were put to the test with actual student achievement data, it turns out that they do more to hide achievement differences than provide a clear understanding of school effectiveness,” researchers wrote.

The annual report cards, which debuted in 2012, assign a single letter grade between A-F to every public school in the state.

They replaced Oklahoma's previous school accountability system, which gauged schools with an Academic Performance Index score of 0-1,500.


Tulsa World

by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
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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In an abundance of caution, the state Department of Education is going to take additional time to guarantee absolute, 100 percent accuracy of the grades. To say this has been frustrating is putting it mildly. The A-F report cards are too critical a tool for parents and communities to accept anything less than quality.”

Janet Barresi,
State schools superintendent


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