The Norman Transcript

December 20, 2013

Accuracy of school grading questioned

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: Can you please tell me your opinion of the school grading that is going on in Oklahoma? With all the arguing going on, I’m not sure who is telling the truth or the purpose of this.

— Tom, Oklahoma City

A: As far as our opinions go, we understand the purpose of the public having a right to know the effectiveness of the schools their hard-earned tax dollars are supporting. As far as the way this is being implemented, we question the accuracy. We do not feel this current grading system is a true representation of a particular school’s abilities to teach children.

For example, one of the criteria is the four-year graduation rate. This says that a student should start and end their high school career in four years. While this is ideal, it’s not always possible because of those students who have disabilities and are oftentimes in school until the age of 22.

With the current grading system, this would count against a high school, when in actuality, it has no bearing on the effectiveness of the school. Schools are also graded on the number of students taking a college entrance exam, which is great in theory, but the only numbers that count are those taken on a national test date. Other students may have taken a residual entrance test at a particular college or university, but that doesn’t help the public school’s grade.

We could go on and on with examples for you, but we feel this grading system is not reflective of what is actually going on in our schools and does not help school improvement efforts at all. Remember, you asked for our opinion. We have never been accused of not freely giving our opinions, even if not asked.

Q: Our daughter is smart, capable and makes good grades. She has always planned on attending college after high school. We have recently found out that she is pregnant and will deliver over the summer. She will be a senior in high school next year.

Can you give us any information that will help us so graduating from high school and going on to college is still possible for her?

— Max and Gwen, south Oklahoma City

Dear Max and Gwen,

All schools make accommodations for high school students who find themselves getting ready to be parents. Many schools also offer support groups, because there are more students than you’d think who are in the same situation.

Your daughter may be eligible for benefits within the department of human services, such as child care and formula. Some daycares have subsidized programs for which your daughter might qualify. This would help with child care fees while she’s attending school.

Check with your individual district or school to see if there might be a homebound program or even distance learning such as Internet classes. If not, there are several virtual programs in Oklahoma that she could “attend” until she is ready and able to go back to her own school.

Remember that your daughter does not have a disability — maybe a “bump” in the road — but she should be supported in her quest to follow the path leading to the goals she had outlined for herself.

Send questions to Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.

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