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Parents must evaluate educators

Published: January 26, 2013

Regarding “Policymakers shouldn't retreat from A-F system” (Our Views, Jan. 22): Most Oklahomans haven't read the study by University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University academics criticizing the A-F school grading system. They depend on The Oklahoman and other analysts to give them clear, coherent and unbiased analyses. It's appalling that professors of education at these institutions think that “valid and reliable performance measures of school climate, motivation and the disposition of school groups longitudinally” would be better understood by parents than an A-F system. Both “climate” and “motivation” are vague non-quantifiable concepts, and longitudinal group disposition baffles me. These educators also want a “balanced performance measurement plan” aligned with schools' “strategic goals.” Fine words, but so general that they're meaningless.

Most parents want schools primarily to make their children understand most academic subjects to a degree that enables them to accomplish their goals in life. Such understanding is best measured by test scores. Research-prone academic educators, however, must “broaden the boundaries” of their field so they'll have more topics to research. Unfortunately, these topics are increasingly qualitative — endlessly debated, but never quantified. Thus the objectives of academics, and those of the teachers, principals and superintendents they've trained, are very different from those of parents. And educators know their way is correct.

As parents, we must evaluate them primarily by student improvement on test scores. State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi doubtless will use the report's “wheat” and ignore the “chaff.”

Elliott Doane, Oklahoma City