The Norman Transcript

Education

October 6, 2012

A-F grading system: questions and answers

NORMAN —

What are the Oklahoma A-F grades?

The A-F grades are the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s (SDE) new method for reporting school performance to the public. These letter grades replace the previous Academic Performance Index scores calculated by the SDE per the No Child Left Behind law.

Why did the SDE feel it necessary to change the evaluation system?

State Superintendent Janet Barresi has said this change is intended to give parents a better understanding of their schools’ performance. The Academic Performance Index scores previously calculated by the SDE were scaled scores ranging 0-1500, similar in nature to the ACT and SAT exam scores.

How are the A-F grades computed?

The SDE computes the grades through a formula it devised, with 94 percent of the data used coming from the SDE and 6 percent from data supplied by school districts. The formula is extremely complex, but the SDE has published a 10-page manual for the public, as well as a 28-page Report Card Guide with the 48 different calculation tables, all available in pdf format on the SDE website at http://ok.gov/sde/node/3507.

Does NPS approve the new A-F system?

NPS is a strong supporter of school accountability and public transparency. We support the spirit of the Legislature’s intent in passing the A-F law but see three serious flaws in the manner in which the SDE is calculating grades:

The SDE devised a non-traditional A-F scale unfamiliar to parents. For example, under the scale devised by the SDE, a 3.75, or a percent grade of 93.75, is needed for an A. Why use simple A-F grades if not in the manner familiar to parents?

The SDE does not treat all students’ performance equally in its formula, but rather heavily weights lower performing students at each school and minimizes the impact of the academic progress of students achieving at “Proficient” and “Advanced” levels.

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