Statisticians Tell Jenks Parents A-F Grading System Is Not Effective

Thursday, November 14th 2013, 10:02 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The state's A-F grading system is getting low marks for accuracy. Some parents in Jenks heard Thursday night from statisticians, who claim the grades are not at all a good way to gauge school quality.

The politicians and school leaders have made up their minds, but parents are looking for information on schools, and the grading system is meant to define what's a good or not-so-good school.

"This report has been used in many cases as a political pawn," said Dr. Curt Adams.

Adams and his team of statisticians pose a credibility threat to the A-F grading system.

A group of parents in Jenks didn't need convincing. They're against it already, but they wanted an explanation of why the grading system doesn't past muster with experts on statistics.

"No modern organization relies on a single measure to assess it's performance," Adams said.

Melissa Abdo leads the parent group in Jenks. They're hoping for change in a system she doesn't believe measures schools fairly or accurately.

"It's very difficult to determine everything a parent wants to know about a school from a single letter grade, so I would say no, we can't determine the difference between an A, B, C, school, because we can't see all those differences in a single letter grade," Abdo said.

11/12/2013 Related Story: Superintendent Janet Barresi Defends A-F Grading System

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said the grades are just a guidepost for improvement.

"I'm interested in what that district, that site, that classroom is doing," Barresi said.

But the researchers say the A-F system doesn't show anything that is or isn't happening.

"There's no evidence on specific measures that were achieved or weren't achieved," Adams said.

In fact, they claim the current system actually hides low achievers in otherwise high achieving schools.

"Then those schools are inherently not meeting the needs or reflecting on the needs of those communities in their schools, which is why that issue is such a concern for this policy," said research associate Ryan Miskell.

The governor and state superintendent have dismissed the research, while many school administrators dismiss the grading system and promise to ignore it, and with that, many parents aren't sure what to make of it or their schools.

11/5/2013 Related Story: Tulsa School Superintendent Says A-F Formula Fails Improving Schools