The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved the release of A-F report cards for public schools across the state Thursday, despite concerns by state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and dozens of school superintendents that the grading system is deeply flawed.
The report shows 212 Oklahoma schools, or 12 percent, received A grades, while 183 schools, or about 10 percent, received F’s. More than half of Oklahoma schools, or 58 percent, received B’s or C’s, while 333, or about 19 percent, received a D grade. The number of schools with A’s and F’s declined from 2014, while there were increases in the number of schools with B’s, C’s and D’s.
“I am committed to a system of accountability that is accurate, reliable and meaningful,” Hofmeister said in a statement. “In its current form, the A-F Report Cards are too flawed to be useful. I am optimistic that we can have a better system.”
When asked about the validity of the A-F Report Cards, Altus Public Schools’ Superintendent Roger Hill responded by saying, “We are extremely proud of our schools in Altus. Our teachers, administrators, and support staff are committed every single day to give our students the very best opportunities to succeed. It’s unfortunate that Oklahoma does not have an accountability system that is useful and meaningful for school improvement and one that we can trust as being accurate.”
“On the surface, Altus Schools made all A’s, B’s, and C’s. One can certainly make the case that our students are performing very well in Altus. Again, that’s a credit to our entire staff,” stated Superintendent Hill.
Approved by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2011 and signed into law by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, the A-F grading system is one of several GOP-led initiatives designed to increase accountability in public schools that faced bitter resistance from teachers and local districts. The grading system was supposed to foster more parental involvement by making it easier for parents to see how their child’s school was performing, but the rollout was marred by delays and resistance from superintendents to the formula that’s used to determine the grades.
The new superintendent for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Rob Neu, said a heavy reliance on testing and errors in the student-growth formula are among many concerns experts have with the system.
“The A-F Report Card is not a valid measure of academic performance and it is unfortunate that students, principals and teachers must again be labeled with a letter grade that is derived from a flawed accountability system,” Neu said in a statement.
Steven Crawford and Ryan Owens, Co-Executive Directors of the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA), issued the following statement about the statutorily required release of school report cards from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
“Oklahoma’s parents, teachers, business, and education leaders have no confidence in the state’s current school accountability system commonly referred to as A-F school grading. Fortunately, multiple research reports, combined with empirical evidence from parents and educators, caused state leaders to question whether confidence in state grade reports is appropriate.”
“We are encouraged that leaders want to improve our system of school accountability. Last session Governor Mary Fallin signed into law HB 1823. The new law mandates that the State Board of Education work with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to study and improve the accuracy of our school accountability system. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has led this process with fidelity and we are eager to review the findings of the research team later this year.”
“Oklahomans deserve a school accountability system that accurately reflects the successes and challenges our schools face. In order to deliver reliable information, the accountability system must be nationally normed, free from manipulation, comparable with other states, evenly applied to all schools receiving state taxpayer support, relevant to students, useful to parents and educators, and clearly indicate student readiness for college or career. Until an accurate accountability system is provided, Oklahomans are wise to consult the best evidence of school success—their own children.”
The state Legislature passed a law that took effect in June directing the Board of Education to work with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to improve the accuracy of the grading system. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University currently are reviewing the system, and a report to the governor and legislative leaders is due by Dec. 31.
Reach Michael Bush at [email protected]