Oklahoma House passes bill changing A-F grading system

The bill is intended to lessen the effect of the lowest 25 percent of test scores on an Oklahoma school's grade.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 5, 2013

The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill Tuesday intended to improve the state's A-F grading system for public schools, which has drawn criticism from school administrators since the first grades were issued last year.

House Bill 1658 would lessen the effect of the lowest 25 percent of test scores on a school's A-F grade and should improve a district's score, said Rep. Lee Denney, the measure's author.

“Lower achieving students need to be counted, but not three times,” said Denney, R-Cushing.

Reading and mathematics tests of the lowest 25th percentile of students in a school district would be counted among the entire school's improvement if the measure becomes law, she said.

Currently, the scoring system looks at the entire school results, the entire school improvement in test scores and the improvement in test scores for the lowest 25 percent of students. As a result, the lowest 25 percent of the students are counted three times, which artificially lowers the scores, Denney said.

HB 1658 would shift the improvement of the lowest 25 percent with the improvement in test scores shown by the rest of the school, so the lowest 25 percent would be counted only twice, Denney said.

To compensate, the ranking of a school that is based on the improvement in reading and mathematic tests of the lowest 25th percentile of students would increase from 17 percent to 34 percent, she said.

“This percentage increase in the ranking system will ensure fairer rankings and show which schools need to focus more on their mathematics and reading curriculums,” Denney said.

The House voted 94-4 to pass HB 1658. It now goes to the Senate.