Gov. Fallin, House of Rep. At Odds Over A-F School Grading System

Thursday, May 3rd 2012, 6:27 pm

A showdown may be looming at the capitol between the governor and the House of Representatives over the state's new system to grade schools and school districts with and A through F system.

On the same day the Gov. Mary Fallin approved the rules for the grading system, a house committee passed a resolution to disapprove them, which has some now fearing this is coming down to politics with your child's education stuck in the middle.

Next fall every parent with a child in an Oklahoma public school will get a report card letting you know how your child's school and school district is doing.

"Simplifying the way we identify school performance is a good thing," said Angela Monson, the Chair of the Oklahoma City School Board.

But Monson and leadership of many school districts across the state say they are concerned about the complicated process in which schools are graded.

"The concern for students and parents is does this grading system really portray accurately how well my school is performing, how well my district is performing?" Monson said.

That is what led Rep. Mike Shelton to introduce a resolution that would disapprove the rules for implementing the A through F scale.

"The top schools that may have a 1400, which is one of the better schools in the state of Oklahoma, they may still look like a ‘B' school after they go through this matrix the state department has put together,"  said Shelton.

But State Superintendent Janet Barresi, who was charged with implementing the rules, argues educators, administrators and the public all had a chance to comment on the grading system.

"This last minute effort is really a red herring," Barresi said. "It's about taking a good law and gutting it and weakening it so parents don't have a good idea about how their child's school is performing."

But the lawmaker who authored the bill says she also has some concerns about implementing the changes so quickly.

"My biggest concern is we have schools and superintendents that are going to be responsible for items they didn't know they were responsible for and graded on things they didn't know they were graded on," said Rep. Lee Denney, (R)-Cushing.

But now it may just all come down to a decision from the governor.

"We're putting Gov. Fallin in a very uncomfortable position by having to review a decision by the state legislature," said Barresi.

Both Barresi and Shelton are urging everyone to call into their legislators and tell them how you feel about this issue.