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Oklahoma Education Department OKs districts to release A-F grades

Oklahoma school officials have been given the green light to release school grades under the new A-F reform system, even though the state Board of Education voted Monday not to release the information.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: October 9, 2012

Hours after the state Board of Education voted to delay releasing A-F grades for schools statewide, the state Education Department told superintendents statewide that the grades could be released to the public.

A voluntary embargo ended after all corrections had been made to the grade report cards, said Maridyth McBee, assistant superintendent for accountability and assessment.

McBee sent an email to superintendents Monday afternoon telling them the grades could be released if they so chose.

The situation is awkward for districts and state officials, she said Tuesday.

“I would understand a district that would want to hold off,” McBee said, “but I am hoping that some will go ahead and embrace their grade and go ahead and start celebrating their success or working to improve any weakness that the report card would identify.”

A records request by The Oklahoman for the grades given to school districts was still being processed Tuesday evening, an agency spokeswoman said.

The state Board of Education voted unanimously Monday morning to delay the release of the much-anticipated A-F letter grades assigned to nearly 1,750 schools statewide.

The board asked the state Education Department to re-evaluate the grades after pleas from a coalition of about 260 Oklahoma superintendents who said the evaluation system was skewed.

At issue is how the state calculates student growth.

Gov. Mary Fallin said the state Board of Education made the right choice when it decided to postpone releasing the grades. She spoke Tuesday at the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County.

Last week, Fallin said the superintendent coalition was trying to “cling to the status quo by staging last-minute political stunts designed to sabotage a solid reform.”

The board is scheduled to revisit the issue at its regular meeting Oct. 25.

McBee said she's looking forward to releasing the grades, whenever it happens.

“They're such a good opportunity for positive change for us,” she said. “I'm very excited to get to that point. I hope we get to get to it soon.”

Some districts officials have already released their school grades.

Putnam City Schools posted information sheets, which included overall grades and some more detailed information, for all 27 of its schools Friday — three days before the embargo was lifted. Copies of the information sheets were sent home with elementary school students as well.

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