According to the annual report cards released by the Department of Education, more than 25% of Oklahoma schools received a D or F.
The report shows 16% of schools in the state received an A, 26% were given a B, 28% got a C, 17% received a D, and 11% (or 200 public schools) earned an F. There were 30 schools in the state that did not receive a grade.
When compared to last year’s grades, more schools received a D or F and fewer came away with an A.
The system bases the grade on three components: 50% on student performance, 25% on improvement from the previous year, and 25% on improvement of the bottom quartile of students. Bonus points are given for high attendance rates, low dropout rates, and a high percentage of students taking advanced placement courses. Test scores from students who are taking a test for the second time, as well as those students who were not in the school for the entire school year, are not counted.
Superintendents and teachers within the state say the method used to determine each school’s grade is faulty. Test scores from fifth and eighth-grade students were not used in calculating a school’s grade this year, causing confusion among some as to whether the grades are accurate. The tests were dropped from the grades as this is the first year students took the new exams.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education claim the grading system offers parents and other community members with a clear view as to how local schools are performing.
“The A-F report cards are vital to ensuring accountability. Parents and communities must know what schools are excelling and what schools need additional help,” said State Superintendent Janet Barresi. “In doing so, Oklahoma educators and schools can build on successes and focus on particular challenges.”
Barresi believes the latest scores show how schools are improving in the state.
“We said in Oklahoma we were going to raise the bar and have more rigorous standards. When you have that you have a period of time where you transition,” said Barresi.
That transition time is responsible for the drop in grades, she said, adding that the grades should go back up over time, referring to them as “growing pains.”
However, not everyone approves of the new grading system, saying they take the focus away from helping students succeed.
The school board responded to those comments by pointing out a number of smaller districts who have used the grading system to make improvements.
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Rob Neu said he has asked staff members to focus on teaching the children, instead of on the report cards.
“The information provided on the A-F School Report Cards is a benchmark and only one measure of what student success looks like. Oklahoma City Public School staff will continue to connect with students as true partners in their education by building relationships; by doing so the test results will take care of themselves. OKCPS will not focus on standardized testing or state report cards. Instead our focus is on engaging our students and parents; as well as providing additional resources to our teachers to improve the academic achievement of our students,” said Neu.