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Oklahoma parents give A-F school grade system mixed reviews

Parents are still finding out what scores were given to the schools their children attend, and reviews so far are mixed. Some say the system is easy, while others say it's too simplistic.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Published: October 26, 2012

After weeks of fighting among school administrators, state employees and the state Board of Education, parents are split about whether a new school evaluation system that was designed for them is worth all the trouble.

Grades were released Thursday for about 1,750 Oklahoma schools, each receiving a letter grade of A-F.

Michelle Nisbett sends her two children to Putnam City North High School, which received a B.

“There's always room for improvement,” Nisbett said, “but we're very happy with Putnam City North and the education and activities available to our children there.”

Nisbett is the president of the Putnam City Parent Teacher Association Council. She said she thinks the grades will be easier for parents to understand than an Academic Performance Index — or API — score but will still hold school officials accountable to their communities.

“It's easily interpreted,” she said. “I think for the most part, everybody understands it.”

‘Too simple'

Amy Nielson has three children, two of whom attend Bixby North Elementary School. The school received an A, a grade she said is appropriate.

But the grade doesn't tell her everything she wants to know about the school her children attend, she said.

Nielson said she thinks schools should be evaluated but that the new system tries to squeeze complicated information into one of five letter grades.

“There are so many factors, and I think they're trying to boil it down to something entirely too simple,” said Nielson, secretary of the Bixby Parent Teacher Association Council. “The grade's going to reflect the challenges (of a school) more than the desire and aptitude of the teachers.”

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