The Norman Transcript


October 6, 2012

A-F grading system: questions and answers



Do other states have similar systems and is there research supporting such systems?

There are a handful of states that use letter grades to grade their schools. NPS is not aware of any research that indicates students who live in such states perform better academically.

How will A-F affect the way we look at schools’ progress and has the state modified the AYP standard to accommodate the new system?

In adopting the A-F system, Oklahoma abandoned the Academic Performance Index and its method for calculating schools’ Annual Yearly Progress (AYP). The SDE has said that “annual measurable objectives” will now determine whether schools make AYP but it has not yet shared those objectives with schools and the public.

Any surprises or schools the district feels may be especially misrepresented?

It was not surprising in that the district was able to estimate grades based on review of student achievement data and the SDE’s new formula. Generally, the higher percentage of English Language Learners and students being served by special education that an NPS school has, the lower the preliminary grade given to that school by the SDE. Again, this is not because NPS’ English Language Learners and students being served by special education are not making gains at NPS. It is, again, because the SDE’s calculation for academic gains is not accurate.

Does NPS and its principals believe A-F will provide an incentive for higher performance and more parental involvement?

NPS principals and teachers are already motivated by a mission of high expectations for all and are dedicated to serving the unique needs of NPS students so that they achieve their full academic potential. NPS is fortunate to already have robust parental involvement and community support of its schools. The SDE’s A-F grades can be an additional measure for NPS to compare performance from one year to the next, but we hope the SDE modifies its formula so the grades more accurately reflect school performance and the quality of instruction in future years. Certainly, parents can consider A-F grades when they are released tomorrow. Yet, we also encourage them to continue to review other measures of NPS schools’ performance, such as ACT and SAT scores, state exam scores, district benchmark testing, graduation and dropout rates, and their children’s own grade cards in forming their opinions on the quality of their local schools and the instruction being provided there.

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