Superintendents reject new grading system
TULSA ( FOX 23) - In a strong show of support for public schools statewide, more than 80 school superintendents came together in Oklahoma City. They were there to protest Oklahoma’s new A through F grading system designed to hold schools accountable for the education they’re providing.
The superintendents say they aren’t opposed to being held accountable or to improve communication, but they say the system is highly discriminatory and is aimed at holding schools back, rather than pushing them forward.
On Monday, the State Department of Education is expected to release A through F report cards for all 1,761 schools.
"The State Department of Education has issued statements saying this will be very easily understood. If that's the case, why does it take a ten page technical guide and 28 page manual to explain it,” says TPS Superintendent, Dr. Keith Ballard.
School leaders say this new formula to measure schools is an effort to embarrass the districts.
"What I would plea is that they pause and really give it a couple of moments to really think about what they're doing, because they can't pull back once you’ve given a school a grade,” says Broken Arrow Superintendent, Dr. Jarod Mendenhall.
Here are some of the concerns. The districts say on this scale, an A is considered a 94% or above. Grades they feel are a reflection of student demographics instead of teacher effectiveness. The state average growth target was set up using a subset of positive scores, instead of a true average made up of all student scores. Finally, they say as the grades transfer from a point system to a letter grade, they are generally rounded down.
State Superintendent, Janet Barresi was not at Thursday’s event. However, we caught up with her in Tulsa. When I told her of the concerns about grades being a reflection of student demographics instead of teacher effectiveness, she strongly disagreed.
"Absolutely not and I reject that idea. That's just a way for them to try and create confusion about the grade card. I think everybody understands a grade card pretty well,” says Barresi.
Despite all of the efforts of the school superintendents to get a delay on the release of the grade cards, they will be released on Monday and Barresi says she is looking forward to it.
The Oklahoma Legislature adopted the new grading system in 2011 so Monday will be the first time the scores are released for schools.