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Updated: 8:33 p.m. Thursday, March 29, 2012 | Posted: 4:59 p.m. Thursday, March 29, 2012

Okla. Ed. board adopts A-F School Grading System

The board voted 4-2 Thursday to adopt the system that state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says will provide greater transparency for schools.

Graded paper
Graded paper

By Shelby Travis and TIM TALLEY

via AP

Oklahoma schools will soon be evaluated like their students: with a letter grade of A to F.

By a vote of 4-2, the Oklahoma Board of Education on Thursday adopted administrative rules to implement legislation adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin last year that assigns letter grades to schools, school districts and the state's overall education system based on academic performance.

Superintendent of Schools Janet Barresi said the plan, similar to those in effect in Indiana and Florida, will provide greater transparency and encourage more parental and community involvement in schools.

"This is a reflection of how the children are doing in those schools," Barresi said. The system replaces the current evaluation method that gives schools a numeric score.

Scores will be determined by student academic achievement scores as well as student growth, overall school improvement, the presence of college preparatory courses and other factors.

The state Education Department plans to release the first letter grades for school performance in August at the beginning of the next school year. They will be based on school assessment results from the 2011-2012 school year,

The board adopted the A-F system after more than an hour of discussion in which the two board members who voted no expressed concern about the plan and suggested that changes need to be made before it is implemented.

The plan includes a 30-day review period for schools who challenge a grade assigned to it, but board members Brian Hayden of Enid and Joy Hofmeister of Tulsa said schools do not have the right to appeal a grade directly to the board.

"The absence of an appeal process is significant," Hofmeister said. "There are so many moving parts in this."

Hayden also expressed concern about the grading system itself and suggested that a poor grade could impact economic development in the area the school serves.

"It's a game-changer," Hayden said. Under the plan, schools must receive a score of 3.75 on a 4-point scale in order to receive an "A'' rating. A school that scores 3.74 will receive a "B'' grade.

"For some communities that 'B' is going to be significant," Hofmeister said. She expressed concern that parents may take a child out of a public school with a "B'' grade and enroll the child in a private school they believe is better because it is not graded in the same way.

Schools that score between 2.74 and 1.75 will be graded "C," those that score between 1.74 and .75 will get a "D'' and those with lower scores will get an "F." Administrators estimated that 10 percent of state schools will have an "A'' and 50 percent will get a "B'' under the plan. About 30 percent will get a "C," 8 percent a "D'' and 2 percent an "F."

Board member Bill Price of Oklahoma City said the new grading system will challenge local schools to improve and encourage the communities they serve to get involved.

"The concept of the law is primarily to get improvement," Price said. "The old system did not reward progress."

Copyright The Associated Press

The Oklahoma Board of Education has adopted an A-F School Grading System that officials say allows parents and students to easily see how their schools are performing.

The board voted 4-2 Thursday to adopt the system that state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi says will provide greater transparency for schools.

The grading system was adopted by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin last year.

It will use school assessment results from the 2011-2012 school year to determine a ranking designed to encourage parent and community involvement and a better understanding of school performance.

The board also received a list of seven low-performing schools in the state that will be considered for a partnership in an effort to increase student achievement.

Copyright The Associated Press

Copyright The Associated Press

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