MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

February 25, 2013

Changes offered to school grading


Associated Press

— TULSA (AP) – State Superintendent Janet Barresi has proposed changes to A-F school grading system rules to address some of the concerns voiced by superintendents, parents and state legislators.

“As always, my commitment is to a system that provides parents with information they can use to make the best educational choices possible for their children through a system of accountability and transparency,” she said.

Under proposed changes, schools would get credit for each advanced course a student takes, the school climate survey would be eliminated and districts would have more time to verify data they send to the state.

“I’m pleased with the changes we are proposing to the A-F rule, and I understand that more changes may occur as we work through the public comment period and legislative session,” Barresi said in Friday’s announcement.

But the proposed tweaks aren’t enough for some educators.

“The proposed rule changes are alarmingly scant in reflection of the concerns raised by more than 300 school superintendents last fall,” Sapulpa Superintendent Kevin Burr told the Tulsa World. “And these changes are dramatically short of the complete overhaul suggested by the OU-OSU report last month.”

More than 25 superintendents asked in an emailed letter that Barresi officially respond to a joint study by University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University researchers that recommended scrapping the system and starting over.

“The (department) should respond to the researchers. Trying to keep a flawed process by nibbling around the rules is just more politics,” Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said.

The House Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee voted Thursday to throw out the A-F rules in a joint resolution offered by Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne.

That bill still needs to be approved by the full House and Senate for passage. Gov. Mary Fallin could veto the bill, but Blackwell said there would likely be an attempt to override the veto.

“Rather than just trying to patch and tape and fix, I thought it would be better to just wipe the slate clean and start over with a new set of rules,” particularly after the research documented fundamental flaws with the system, he said.