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October 10, 2012

Norman report cards withheld

NORMAN — Grades will be revealed when state officially accepts them

Following a postponement of grade releases from the State Department of Education, the Norman School Board chose not to reveal the district’s grades until they are officially accepted by the State Board of Education on Oct. 25.

In a special information-only meeting Tuesday evening, the board of education heard a presentation from Shirley Simmons, NPS assistant superintendent, detailing the formula used in the state’s grading system and why it’s problematic.

Using bar graphs and example report cards, Simmons reiterated concerns already voiced by Superintendent Joe Siano. Simmons showed why inaccurate growth calculations, inflation of at-risk subgroups’ weight in the GPA and non-traditional A-F scale are of concern to educators.

“With demographics, if we’re going to simplify things down to a single letter grade with all these demographics at play, we need to take into account that there are students with widely different instructional needs at each school, and the A-F report card indicates no demographics at all,” Simmons said.

Simmons’ presentation included the state’s overall percentages under the grading system, revealing 48 percent of Oklahoma schools receiving a B, 34 percent receiving a C and only 9 percent receiving an A.

Board members voiced their concerns, concluding unanimously that the system’s formula is “ridiculous” and speculating whether the two weeks’ postponement will result in any substantial changes.

“One thing I think will stay the same is the grading system. The current scale was widely approved,” Siano said. “I believe the state board is focusing mainly on the growth component, and at this point, it’s in their hands.”

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