School Accreditation Changes Proposed By Supt. Ryan Walters At OSDE Meeting

Ryan Walters proposed new changes to the school accreditation system in today's OSDE board meeting with a new focus on academic performance.

Thursday, November 30th 2023, 5:13 pm

By: News 9

The November State Board of Education meeting was focused on accreditation. Tulsa Public Schools gave their monthly update to the board, and State Superintendent Walters proposed a change to the state’s accreditation system.

Walters has criticized the state’s accreditation standards, saying currently it’s more focused on finances and administration, when it should be focused on academic success.

“Parents are frustrated, our communities are frustrated so what we've got to do is take a different approach. The status quo has not worked,” said Walters. “Oklahoma's academic performance is not where it needs to be." 

The proposed rule would put more focus on academic success regarding accreditation standards. The state has levels of accreditation: accredited without deficiencies, accredited with deficiencies, accredited with warning, accredited with probation, and non-accredited. 

“Schools that perform less than 50 percent basic in math are going to have deficiencies moving forward, that's what we're proposing,” said Walters. 

Those schools would have one academic school year to either rise all the way back up to 50 percent to go back to full accreditation status or at the very least show a 5 percent increase, which would keep them accredited with deficiencies. 

“If you don't grow, you move down to the probation, warning statuses so you continue to move down unless you at least receive a 5 percent growth,” said Walters. 

Any school that drops below 'accredited without deficiencies' will be provided increased support from OSDE including resources, personnel, and training. 

“This is about outcomes and it gives them something to show success to show that they are moving in the right direction,” said Walters. 

Today was just the first step of the potential rule change.

“The rule will then be put out to public comment for 60 days. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in, groups can weigh in and schools can weigh in,” said Walters. 

After that, it will go to an official board vote, then must be approved by the House, Senate, and governor.

“We have to do this,” said Walters. 

The state board also went into executive session to discuss the pending lawsuit against the state's publicly funded Catholic charter school.

“We want religious institutions to be involved in education. We want parents to be able to choose that path for their kids if that's what they think is best,” said Walters. 

The suit was filed in the state supreme court by Attorney General Gentner Drummond, who continues to call St. Isidore unconstitutional. 

Walters and OSDE filed a motion to be a part of the lawsuit in their official capacities, arguing that accreditation and funding for the school would have to go through OSDE. That motion was denied. But the board voted Thursday to retain a firm for the litigation.

“Well, we're going to challenge that,” said Walters. “We are going to continue to fight for individuals' religious liberty, we're going to fight to get back in the case, and we're going to win.”

The next board of education meeting is set for December 21st at 9:30 am.


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