University Study Discredits Oklahoma's A-F Grading System For Schools

Oklahoma's schools will get new grade cards next week. It's the second year for the A-F grading system.

Wednesday, October 23rd 2013, 6:38 pm

Report cards come out next week for every school and school district in Oklahoma. It's the second year for the A-F grading system and experts say it's perhaps more flawed now that it was last year.

College professors, who work on statistics, say it's worthless and maybe overstates the quality of some schools, but it doesn't matter they say, because the difference between an "A" for a school and an "F" could literally be every student missing just four questions on a single test.

"I'm fairly pleased with how ours look," said Sherry Durkee, Sand Springs Assistant Superintendent.

That's about the best thing Durkee could say about the A-F grading system.

"I think it's a small reflection of overall school performance and what we do - I have to say that - but the public sees that grade as good or bad, and so we, our district, did okay."

The A-F grades first came out last year and were widely criticized by administrators and statisticians as a skewed reflection of school quality.

Lawmakers made some changes in the formula, but the criticism continues.

OU and OSU scholars determined even the modified letter grade system "has very little meaning" for school evaluation, "hides important differences" between schools with different grades, and "has practically no meaning or utility" for parents or policy makers.

At several Sand Springs schools, the grades keep changing as the state recalculates the grades, while districts review them. For every district, the grades have changed at least five times in the last week.

The state superintendent believes in the system as it stands.

10/18/2013 Related Story: Calculation Error Delays Oklahoma Schools' A-F Grades

"The scores are checking out to be accurate and we apologize for the little glitch that was in the beginning, but we're ready to move forward with the state board to present that to them," State Superintendent Janet Barresi said.

Durkee said she agrees with the university research that says a single grade from a single test doesn't measure a school, whether that's an "A" or "F" or somewhere in between.

"Am I confident in saying that our 'A' school is better than one of our 'C' schools? No," Durkee said.

Both the Tulsa and Union school districts agree with the findings of the OSU/OU report.

It's up to the legislature to change the grading system; meanwhile, the grades for this year should come out next Tuesday online.

Click here to see that report


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