Oklahoma Schools Receive Poor Report Card

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 8:00 pm
By: News On 6

Are Oklahoma schools making the grade? A new report by the National Chamber of Commerce says 'no.' They gave the state an "F" for academic achievement and a "D" for preparing students for the workforce. News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims reports some say the study fails to tell the whole story.

"For those states who aren't doing well it's not something we can hide from,” said Tulsa Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Sheila Curley. “It's something we need to address."

Curley says the national organization took a look at education because schools can help give cities an edge or take it away.

“What are we going to do to make ourselves competitive not only to attract people to move here but then also to attract businesses here,” said Curley. “Or to expand our growing businesses, and what came rising to the top was education."

To read more on the report, visit www.uschamber.com.

The U.S. Chamber's report also gave Oklahoma a "D" for the achievements of poor and minority students, but state leaders were praising students last fall for making big gains. They claimed 90% of third-graders were reading on grade level and 80% of eighth-graders scored satisfactory or above on state math tests.

How can Oklahoma students do so well in one study and so poorly on another? The difference is the test, state exams versus a national one.

And Oklahoma students fair much worse on national tests, which is why the chamber gave Oklahoma an "F" on truth in advertising of student proficiency. Local chamber leaders say you have to be up front about the negative, but you also have to highlight the positives.

For example, Oklahoma continues to lead the nation in early childhood education.

“We tell them that actually we have a wealth of assets. You know we do have some issues, but we have a wealth of assets," Curley said. "Booker T Washington, one of the top 100 high schools in the nation. We've got Jenks Public Schools that recently won the Baldrige Award. So we have some real gems in the Tulsa area."

And of course, statistics can be used a bunch of different ways. The chamber and Education Week's Quality Counts report used similar testing data. One ranks the state in the bottom ten, the other slightly higher at 37.