The Edmond Sun

October 8, 2012

State delays A-F school grading system

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The state school board has delayed the rollout of the A-F school grading system, which had been set for release Monday.

The State Board of Education tabled a vote on the acceptance of the report cards until the Oct. 25 full board meeting. The vote comes in the wake of more than 306 superintendents representing close to 80 percent of the state’s students objecting to what they called the flawed methodology of the grading system. The State Department of Education will reschedule a press conference that was initially scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Prior to the announcement, Edmond’s Superintendent David Goin said he supports the intent of the legislation that states “parents and community members should be able to quickly and easily determine how schools are performing” through the assignment of letter grades.

However, Goin said, “Understanding the details involved in the calculations and grades assigned will not be quite so uncomplicated.”

Report cards will include four categories of grades that will be used in calculating final grades for schools and districts.

“When superintendents received preliminary grades five weeks ago, school administrators began trying to confirm the grades assigned. It was within the last two weeks in questioning OSDE personnel about how to interpret elements of grades received that we learned about specific procedures used by the OSDE to define “average” growth performance and to identify a school’s population of low achieving students.

Citing the four categories of grades that will be used in calculating final school and district grades, Goin said he has concerns of how the state figures lowest achieving students’ growth (referred to as Lowest Quartile Growth”) and the effect of low achieving students’ growth on a school’s grade.

Goin’s concerns include the fact that for most Edmond schools the low achieving students group is comprised of few children compared to the number and the total school population. In a school of 900 children, the population of the lowest achievers could be as few as 21 who took 35 tests, scoring in lowest categories of achievement, as low as 2 percent of the school’s population, yet it will account for 17 percent of a school’s final grade.

A grade of C or lower will have negative consequences for a school’s final grade set by the state to establish an A, Goin said. The state adopted a relatively uncommon 3.75 GPA (grade point average) or 93.75 percent to receive an A where most school districts use a 3.5 or 3.6 for an A.

“Schools that make straight-A grades on the other three categories of the report card and make a C under this category will have a 3.66 GPA — which earns a final grade of B,” Goin said. “Numerous schools in Edmond (and for that matter, across the state) that under the more typical 4.0 scale would have made a school grade of A will be assigned a final grade of B based upon the low achiever growth category grade.  

“Schools’ lowest achieving groups include a number of children who have handicapping conditions that affect learning and for which accommodations and modified learning targets have been established. Other factors, either in conjunction with or independent of a special education condition, include limited knowledge of English language, effects of poverty, abuse, etc.

“We all desire a grading system that is fair, consistent and informative,” Goin said. “I respect the legislators who created the A-F system and appreciate many within the OSDE for their efforts to put a quality system in place. My hope is that collaborative efforts will be engaged to build upon this year’s system to create an improved 2013 version. Just as we would hope for a better report card system, the goal for our individual schools and school district will be to continue to grow, to improve and to provide the best quality learning opportunities possible for the children we serve.”

To read Goin’s comments in entirety go to www.edmondschools.net, under Superintendent’s Message.