LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Parents across the state can now see how their child’s school ranks in several categories, using a new school report card system.
The school report cards are required under federal law, but for the last couple of years, Oklahoma Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has been leading and effort to make the grading system more comprehensive.
In the past, the grading system was based on one letter grade. Now, the new system grades elementary and middle schools on up to four aspects while high schools are graded on up to five. These categories include: academic achievement, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, English language proficiency assessment progress and post secondary opportunities and graduation rate.
“That word change, people hate that word, but we embrace it and we have to," said Flower Mound Public School’s Superintendent and Principal, Dax Trent. "If we’re going to be successful in this industry we have to.”
The superintendents for Lawton Public Schools and Flower Mound Public School both agree that the new system incorporates more contextual information.
“I think there is a lot of good data there," said Trent. "There’s more sub-categories.”
“It does provide better information for principals and teachers on an instructional level,” said Lawton Public Schools’ Superintendent, Tom Deighan.
However, federal law requires these new report cards to follow the guidelines and parameters set by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Therefore, the grades must provide what’s called ‘meaningful differentiation’.
“Which in a nutshell means we had to have only five percent of schools in the state could have an 'A' and five percent of schools in the state had to have an 'F',” said Deighan.
Deighan says this forced all of the schools into a bell curve regardless of the results. Two of the graded areas didn’t provide the required number of A’s or F’s: chronic absenteeism and graduation rates.
“So in order to spread out the scores and have that meaningful differentiation, they changed the rules so to speak,” said Deighan.
The scores in these two categories were much lower once they were redistributed to reflect that bell curve.
“Then they said this is what it takes to have an 'A', this is what it takes to have a 'B'," said Trent. "Year’s past we were 94 percent and we were an 'A' this year we were at 92 percent and we were a 'B'.”
“The changes in the calculation of chronic absenteeism and graduation rates definitely hurt our schools but still it is a better system than it was in the past,” said Deighan.
Both superintendents are pleased with their districts.
“We have an amazing staff, they work," said Trent. "We have an amazing support staff we have amazing teachers.”
“I keep saying I’m going to put everybody’s report card on the district refrigerator," said Deighan. "I’m proud of what they’ve done if you compare us with other districts of our size and our demographics we’re extremely competitive and again I am extremely proud of our educators they’ve done an amazing job.”
For more information on all local schools and their grades, visit the website www.oklaschools.com.