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October 9, 2012

Outcry prompts review

NORMAN — Schools not satisfied with grading system

The State Department of Education, set to release their controversial letter grades for school evaluation Monday, postponed the release after their official acceptance was unanimously tabled by the State Board of Education.

Due to widespread outcry questioning the system’s formulas, board members overstepped the department’s plan by opting to wait and review these aspects until the full board meeting Oct. 25.

“The board voted 6-0 to postpone the release due to the amount of concern expressed by educators across the state, particularly regarding the formula’s measurement of growth in student performance,” said Shelly Hickman, Norman Public Schools community relations coordinator. “The state board wished to review the formula prior to their next meeting to address these concerns.”

The state’s new report card-style evaluation system was approved by the legislature in 2011 and is intended to replace the Academic Performance Index as Oklahoma’s means of tracking school performance and improvement.

Met with statewide unease and disapproval, the system’s formula has drawn more than 150 superintendents’ outspoken concerns and 300 districts’ request for further review, NPS Superintendent Joe Siano said.

“We are grateful the State Board of Education has chosen to take the time to study the method the State Department of Education is using to calculate grades for schools,” Siano said.

Reiterating his particular concerns with the system, Siano added, “We would like the board to investigate our concerns, which are a) the system does not accurately calculate student growth — that is, students who score proficient on the third-grade test and then score at the same level of proficiency on the fourth-grade test are not considered to have grown by the SDE; b) it does not treat all students’ achievement the same but rather weights the scores of at-risk subgroups and minimizes the impact of students scoring at proficient and advanced; and c) it is not a traditional A-F scale familiar to parents, e.g. 90-100 is not an A in the SDE’s formula.”

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