Schools Send Home Letters Explaining District Letter Grades

Friday, December 7th 2012, 5:46 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The state has now certified letter grades for each Oklahoma school district. This comes just weeks after issuing grades for individual schools.

The Tulsa Public Schools district got a "D," while some surrounding districts did much better. Sand Springs, Jenks, Berryhill, Owasso and Union all have "B's" and Broken Arrow has a "C."

You might imagine the report cards are embraced by schools with good grades and not by those with low ones and you would be right.

We've compiled letters from principals explaining those grades to parents and found a wide difference in how those results were explained.

Most principals told parents the grades are irrelevant, simply duplicating a sample letter they were sent by the central office at Tulsa Public Schools.

Read some of those letters here. The letter from Anderson is an example of the sample letter

Many principals didn't even mention the grade their school received, like the letter from Springdale Elementary, a school with a "D" on the report card.

Schools that earned high marks usually did, like Lee, which earned a "B."

Carnegie Elementary copied their "A" report card and sent it home to celebrate the achievement.

A theme of most letters was that the principals don't believe the grades fully reflect what's happening in the classroom, and only a handful of the letters didn't cast doubt on the validity of the process.

See a list of all Oklahoma school district grades

A few notable exceptions include the letter from Kerr Elementary principal Mollie Miller, who wrote: "our school received a "D"... due to lack of growth on our test scores."

Her letter gives parents plenty of suggestions on how to help improve the grade.

In a letter from Grissom, Principal Brent Rowland says, "our report card affirms some strengths and highlights some areas where we need to improve, specifically reading."

10/26/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Schools React To A-F Grade Reports

Tammy States from Emerson Elementary wrote, "[we] are targeting those areas that we have shown weaknesses in according to the report card."

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard has said he's not going to talk any more about the grades, but will continue to work to change the formula and improve student achievement.

The "D" for the TPS district, along with Oklahoma City schools and a few other districts, is the lowest of the district grades in the state.

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