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Tulsa School Superintendent Says A-F Formula Fails Improving Schools

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Superintendent Keith Ballard at a news conference Tuesday. Superintendent Keith Ballard at a news conference Tuesday.
Key Elementary School in Tulsa. Key Elementary School in Tulsa.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools says four elementary schools with significant improvement in one measure ended up with lower school grades than last year.

Despite gains in the number of proficient students, the schools have a "F" grades, after having "D" grades last year. The district says the lower grades are the result of a formula that doesn't reward increases in achievement.

Dr. Keith Ballard said Burroughs, Hawthorne, Anderson, Chouteau, Emerson and Kendall-Whittier Elementary each have "F" grades on the new report cards.

Read TPS Summary Of A-F School Report Cards

Thirty-six Tulsa schools in total will receive an "F" including 27 elementary schools, eight middle schools and one high school.

Seven schools received "A" grades including five elementary schools, one middle and one high school.

11/4/2013 Related Story: Governor Fallin Defends A-F Report Cards

Ballard said the grades are not meaningful to TPS.

"In my view, these grades are flawed and completely inconsequential," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent.

"They do not match up with the reality that parents, teachers and students see firsthand in our schools every day.

Burroughs had a 19 percent improvement, Hawthorne 18 percent, Emerson a 15 percent, and Anderson a 13 percent increase in the number of students considered proficient, yet all have failing grades, according to TPS.

2013 Tulsa Public School A-F Report Cards

The State Department of Education is expected to release the A-F grades for schools statewide following a State Board of Education meeting Wednesday afternoon.

State Department of Education spokesman, Phil Bacharach, issued this statement Tuesday:

"The A-F grades are an easily understood snapshot for parents and communities to see how their local schools are doing. The strategy of giving letter grades to summarize performance is hardly a radical concept. The grading formula used by the Oklahoma State Department of Education this year is different from the calculation employed last year. It was modified through state law after a number of district administrators and others advocated for changes.

"As reflected by the grades, a number of TPS schools face academic challenges. That doesn't have to be, and shouldn't be, demoralizing. Tulsa has dedicated and hardworking teachers, and its students are smart and capable. The challenge for them, and all Oklahoma schools, is not to accept low expectations. Our kids deserve better."

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