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Results of Oklahoma's A-F grading system for schools should be embraced

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 26, 2012

AFTER several weeks' delay, A-F grades have been released for all Oklahoma public schools. The results indicate the pre-emptive criticisms of some superintendents were overblown and unfounded.

That group, led by Tulsa's Keith Ballard, portrayed the system as unduly harsh. Ballard even claimed the school report cards were designed “to make schools look as bad as possible.” The actual grades demolish that argument. Only nine of 1,744 school sites got an F. Many parents can name more bad schools than that off the top of their head. The fact that Tulsa had 19 of the 30 worst-performing schools may explain his vocal denouncements.

If anything, the extremely low number of F schools suggests the school grading system may be too lenient, not too harsh. Superintendents opposed to the A-F evaluations seem to think the system is valid only if every school gets an A or B. That's nonsense.

Those who attribute good school grades to socio-economic factors are off the mark. Several A schools were in rural communities that aren't concentrations of wealth and privilege. The poverty rate in Canton is higher than the statewide rate. Average household income is 14 percent lower than the statewide average. Yet Canton High School got an A.

At Cottonwood in Coal County, the poverty rate is 21 percent; household income is 30 percent lower than the statewide average. Yet Cottonwood received an A.

The ferocity of some superintendents' criticism is now baffling. Edmond Superintendent David Goin was among those vocally complaining about the grading system, yet eight Edmond schools were among the 160 receiving an A. Based on Goin's past comments, should parents dismiss those scores and conclude Edmond schools are actually subpar? We think not.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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