Oklahoma Schools Receive Report Cards

Published |
Oklahoma Schools Receive Report Cards
We analyze the recent report cards issued based on Oklahoma’s new assessment structure – and why some educators are outraged over their marks.
Report cards were recently released for the 1,750 schools in the state of Oklahoma, under the new evaluation system implemented by the state’s Department of Education. While most schools were not entirely surprised with their marks, some districts complained that the new system did not provide a fair assessment of some of their schools. Others are busy celebrating the high marks they received, attributing their outstanding academic performance to a wide variety of factors.

New Grading System Overview
The Oklahoma legislature created the new method of grading schools to create “accountability and transparency among schools,” according to the Oklahoma Daily. Lawmakers also wanted to make the grading system easy for parents to understand, so they can make educated decisions about the best schools for their children. It was also designed to help schools identify specific weaknesses so that targeted solutions for strengthening and improving schools could be implemented.
“These report cards are user-friendly, straightforward and fair,” Janet Barresi, State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Oklahoma, told the Oklahoma Daily. “It is high time for parents to have access to this information as they seek to make the best educational choices for their children. Parents have a basic right to this information, and they should be able to find it easily.”
The new grading system employs a formula that takes a number of factors into consideration when determining overall school performance. Oklahoma Gazette explains that the new grading system looks at five core academic areas, including math, reading, writing, science and social studies. The breakdown of the formula is as follows:
       ·      Individual Student Performance (33 percent)
       ·      Whole School Performance (33 percent)
       ·      Growth of Students Performing in Bottom Quarter (17 percent)
       ·      Growth of Students in Math and Reading (17 percent)
The assessment considers attendance and graduation rates of students, parent and community involvement and number of students participating in advanced coursework, as well as standardized test scores. In addition to performance, improvement is also a consideration, which should be a boon to failing schools struggling to bring their performance up to par. However, educators across the state are complaining that the new assessments do not go into enough depth to discover the true quality of an Oklahoma school.
Problems with the New Grading System
The Oklahoma Daily reports that many of the state’s educators, including some college professors, are decrying the methods used to evaluate schools through this new assessment system. Theresa DeBacker, an associate dean at Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at Oklahoma University, explained that it is impossible to narrow a school’s complete academic performance into a single letter grade.
DeBacker also noted that Oklahoma classrooms are filled with students with a broad range of knowledge levels, learning abilities and testing skills. Teachers responsible for such diverse classrooms should not be held accountable for the performance of their students through a single test taken by those students at the end of the school year. Teachers who have students learning English as a second language, or those with severe learning disabilities, can quickly lower the learning curve for the entire class based on this assessment system.
The methodology also doesn’t make allowances for schools that are poorly funded and can’t afford the technology and resources often taken for granted by some of the wealthier schools in the state. Educators worry that giving these schools a poor grade will serve to compound the issues the schools are already facing.
“A lot of this comes down to funding; we’re testing, but not investing,” DeBacker explained. “Now, we’re publically printing the report cards – humiliating the schools while withholding what they need to do their jobs.”
Tulsa Schools Rank at Bottom, Question Methodology
One such example of these concerns is Tulsa Public Schools. The urban district, which faces high poverty rates, gang activity and violence, has some of the worst performing schools in the state, according to the new assessment system. Eight of the schools in Tulsa received failing grades, which is the highest concentration of failing schools throughout Oklahoma. However, Tulsa school officials told the NewsOK that the grades received may not be an accurate depiction of the performance of Tulsa Public Schools.
“We specifically are working to improve reading scores, math scores and to put in good programs,” Keith Ballard, superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, told NewsOK. “But we were doing all of that before this, and I have not found the state Department of Education to be particularly helpful in providing assistance to schools.”
The district has implemented some rather drastic changes in recent years in an effort to improve academic performance, including uniforms in all Tulsa schools and the closure of 13 failing schools. The district has also been working to replace ineffective teachers and principals in underperforming schools. However, many of these changes are still in the early stages, so improvement has been small at this point.
Other Schools Celebrating “A” Ratings
While Tulsa schools are dealing with low scores from the new grading system, other school districts are celebrating high ratings. NewsOK also reports that seven districts across the state received “A” grades under the new assessment system, with a total of 160 schools across the state receiving the highest marks. Many of the schools on this list attributed their success to high cooperation between the district and community, strong parental involvement and high teacher retention rates.
The large majority of Oklahoma schools (48 percent) received “B” grades. Another 34 percent received a “C,” while nine percent earned an “A” and eight percent earned a “D.” The final one percent of schools earned a failing grade.

Additional Resources [+]
10 Tips for Choosing the Best High School for Your Child
10 Tips for Choosing the Best High School for Your Child
Which States Have the Best Public Schools?
Which States Have the Best Public Schools?
comments powered by Disqus
Recent Public School Articles
Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?
Are the Three Rs Robbing our Children?
For far too long the American public school system has failed to address “out-of-school” factors like poverty and their impact on what happens in the classroom. As the nation continues to become increasingly diverse, many schools are adopting comprehensive approaches to education that account for the unique needs of students so that each child is prepared for their future and not just for a year-end test.
States Fight to Teach “Ignorant” Science to Students
Wyoming recently became the first state to reject the Next Generation Science Standards because of concern regarding lessons that teach human-caused climate change. Several other states have also taken measures to reject the standards, which has some education officials concerned about the quality of instruction students in those states will receive.
School-to-Prison Pipeline Persists Despite Local, State and National Efforts
Inadequate funding and resources for schools, harsh zero-tolerance discipline policies, police presence in public schools, and de facto segregation continue to create school environments in which poor and minority students have little chance of succeeding. The result is a continuation of the school-to-prison pipeline that has been commonplace in the American education system for decades, despite federal, state and local efforts to curb the problem.
Evaluating Public Schools


Explore the public school grading/ranking system, how it works and what it means. Get latest national rankings and read what critics of school grading have to say. Take a look at the nation’s top performing schools as ranked by U.S. News and Newsweek.