Lawmakers Aim To Change School Report Card Criteria

Wednesday, November 27th 2019, 5:09 pm
By: Amy Avery

The State Board of Education released school report cards this week and even though the grades show some growth, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says they aren't where they want to be yet.

 Related Story: State Education Department Releases School Report Cards 

Many Educators are concerned Oklahoma's A to F Report Card System isn't an accurate representation of what's happening in schools every day. The report cards are required by state and federal law, but many educators say some of criteria, like chronic absenteeism, are beyond their control and state lawmakers want to change that.

"You could have a school in a poor district that is rated as a D or an F School and yet there are teachers there working every day and kids coming in everyday and great things are happening," said House District 77 Representative John Waldron.

Representative John Waldron taught Oklahoma Students for 20 years before heading to the capitol.

He says he used to give students letter grades on tests, but believes some indicators on the A to F Report Card System are hurting school districts instead of helping them.

"We are comparing school districts that do different things,” said Waldron. “Edison does a lot of great work in deaf education, schools in my district have a lot of English as a Second Language students, some schools draw students from all over the city like Booker T and to measure them all in an apples to apples comparison distorts what's really going on in our schools."

Oklahoma Schools are graded on five different indicators:

  • Academic Achievement
  • Graduation Rate
  • English Language Proficiency
  • Chronic Absenteeism
  • Post-Secondary Opportunities

Representative Waldron says it's important for kids to go to school, but many factors contributing to chronic absenteeism are out of the school's control. 

“If you're just going to lay all that on the shoulders of the teachers without giving them the resources to deal with it, then you're just undermining the public schools, you aren't helping them,” said Waldron.

Many area schools saw overall scores ranging from A's to C's to F's, but most of their chronic absenteeism scores were lower.

Representative Waldron is proposing a bill that would take chronic absenteeism out, and replace it with teacher satisfaction, something Waldron believes could make a difference in measuring school success.

"If you measure building climate, you'd be rewarding administrators who are creating a healthy working environment, you'd be valuing teachers and you'd help draw more teachers back to the profession," said Waldron.  

He says many school districts already gather surveys from teachers regarding building climate and satisfaction with the district. He also says this score could even help attack a bigger problem Oklahoma is facing.

"We have to restore our professional teaching corps and right now it's leaving the state,” said Waldron. “If we change the A to F measure to signal that we value teachers and the role they play in shaping the lives of students, I think we can go a long way in addressing the education crisis.”  

He also believes this would help show teachers how they're valued and could also help keep them in the classroom.

"We believe that data is very important these days but we shouldn’t be slaves to the data or a particular way of measuring data and that data that we collect should not be more important than the experiences of parents and students and teachers every day,” said Waldron.

This is proposed legislation at this time. The deadline for lawmakers to draft bills and resolutions is December 13th.

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