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A-F Accountability in Oklahoma; Plurality of Schools Receive 'B' Grades

After a great deal of controversy and political sniping surrounding Oklahoma's A-F accountability system, the state officially released the grades for about 1,750 schools in the state on Nov. 6. What were the results? Mixed.

On the A-F scale the state uses, the most common grade was a B, which is what 499 schools received, following closely by the 472 schools that received a C. As for the highest and lowest ratings, 354 schools received an A grade, while 153 received an F.

The Oklahoma education department's initial release of information also contained A-F grades for districts, but The Oklahoman reported Nov. 7 that those district grades were posted on the state education website "by mistake" and were removed. Although a spokesman for the department, Tricia Pemberton, told the newspaper that those district grades would be re-posted in a couple of days, when I downloaded the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet from the department's website at about 11 a.m. eastern time on Nov. 7, it still contained district grades. So it's unclear exactly what the status is of those district ratings.

"This is an accurate report that is aimed at parents and community individuals. There's absolutely no repercussions associated with it," Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said during a press conference Nov. 6.

As I've previously discussed, school district officials in Oklahoma have expressed frustration with how A-F accountability has rolled out this year in the state—districts have complained about several errors in the data the state provided to districts for review as they generated the A-F grades in October. And the final release of the grades was delayed due to these issues. Some parent groups in Oklahoma have also begun speaking out about problems they see with A-F in the state. (I've embedded a statement from a few of those groups at the end of this blog post.)

Although Barresi stressed that there will be no rewards or punishments handed out based solely on these grades, school accountability will likely continue to be big issue in the state. In her press conference discussing the grades, she did say she's pursuing a $16 million grant in her proposed budget for next year that would allow high-performing schools in high-poverty areas to help their low-performing counterparts that have similar demographics. (She didn't specify what kind of aid they would be expected to provide.)

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