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.
The goal is to open lines of communication between schools and the public, district spokesman Steve Lindley said.
“We wanted parents to understand more about the system,” he said. “It's something new in place. It's different than they've seen. We wanted to begin introducing them to the topic and begin to inform them about the topic.”
The district also planned community meetings Monday night at nearly every school for anyone who wanted more information about the new grading system or specific school grades. The meetings have been postponed, Lindley said.
Board member Bill Price said he understands that some districts want to move ahead and release the grades but others may want to see if their grades change. Either way, local leaders can decide whether to release the data.
“I don't see anything horribly objectionable to it,” Price said. Moore Superintendent Susan Pierce said she doesn't plan to release test scores until they are approved by the state Board of Education.
“I think it's just a matter of opinion, but we are of the opinion that we were told that the grades would not be for public view until after the state board approved those grades,” Pierce said.
Pierce said she's pleased with the preliminary grades her schools have received, but she still wants to wait.
“We want the most accurate information used and the most accurate formulas used in interpreting our grades,” Pierce said. “ ... We just want to make sure that we are sending out the very best information that's available to us. We're proud of our schools and we want to be proud of our grades.”
The same is true for several other metro school districts.
Oklahoma City. “The Oklahoma City Public School District respects the Oklahoma state Department of Education and its decisions,” Superintendent Karl Springer said in a statement. “We will release the information when directed by the OKSDE.”
Edmond. “We believe that it would be premature to release the A-F grades,” district spokeswoman Susan Parks Schlepp said. “The current grades are not certified and are perhaps subject to change.”
Norman. “As these are preliminary grade calculations that are uncertified by the state Board of Education, we do not think it is appropriate to share them until we have had the opportunity to get a legal opinion,” district spokeswoman Shelly Hickman said.
THE TULSA WORLD