Superintendents Criticize New A-F Grading System

Thursday, October 4th 2012, 6:46 pm
By: News 9

All Oklahoma public schools will get a report card from the State Department of Education starting on Monday. Schools will get letter grades based on a new formula aimed at measuring student performance, but dozens of superintendents are criticizing the new system.

No child wants to take home a bad grade on a report card. Neither do superintendents across the state who say the new grading system is flawed and doesn't accurately reflect the quality of their schools.

5/3/2012 related Story: Gov. Fallin, House Of Rep. At Odds Over A-F School Grading System

District leaders representing more than 300,000 Oklahoma students want a clear process when it comes to the state evaluating public schools.

"We  believe there are serious technical flaws in the way the grades are being computed," Edmond Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. David Goin said.

Letter grades 'A' through 'F' will be released Monday for more than 1,700 public schools under a new system the legislature passed in 2011. But dozens of superintendents want their districts to know how the grades were derived, through a formula they say is unfair.

"The devil is in the details, and that is absolutely true," Dr. Goin said.

4/26/2012 Related Story: Lawmaker Against A To F Grading System In Oklahoma Schools

One of the key concerns is that the system measures academic growth based on low-performing students.

"These are children who are handicapped either through IDEA, special education, children who do not know the English language, they're new to the United States, children who live in poverty, who may not have a stimulating environment at home," Dr. Goin said.

Another concern is that schools will not be graded on the same 4.0 scale that students are used to.

For example, if a student made a 90% on a test, they'd still get an 'A', but under the state's new grading system, for  a school to get an 'A', they'd have to have a 3.75 GPA, or 94% , to get an 'A'.

"This isn't about us not wanting to improve, we just want it to be fair," Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Karl Springer said.

3/29/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma Board Adopts A-F School Grading System

More than 80 superintendents were hoping the state would delay releasing the grades next week until the system is reevaluated, but Thursday afternoon the Department of Education released a statement saying they are moving forward with the report cards Monday.

The following is the statement released by the Oklahoma Department of Education:

"Districts should have nothing to hide and should embrace the transparency and accountability offered by this reform. Parents have a right to know this information. These report cards are clear-cut, straight forward and fair. District representatives from across the state had a role in crafting the information that would be included in the report cards, including the calculations used to determine final grades. The State Department of Education has exhaustively communicated with districts on the details of these report cards for more than six months, providing technical assistance, training, personal consultation and a series of guides that are publicly available to all Oklahoma citizens. We've met with districts many times, heard their concerns, and answered their questions. To hold a press conference a few days before the report cards are set to be released is nothing more than political posturing meant to derail implementation of a law that was passed in 2011. We're moving forward, and the report cards will be released to all citizens on Monday."