When my sons were in school, both they and I celebrated when they came home with A’s on their report card. If they came home with C’s, they knew we’d have to talk. But we both knew what these grades meant. Their teachers didn’t send home a complicated formula for me to decipher before I could determine whether or not my sons were reaching their full academic potential.
Now, parents and community members throughout our state will have the same criteria when it comes to examining school performance.
Draft rules and a rule intent statement for our new A-F School Grading System will be posted on the State Department of Education’s website, http://ok.gov/sde/education-law-book, on Monday. The rules open for a 30-day public comment period the same day. The State Board of Education will vote on the rules at its regular monthly meeting March 29.
These rules were one of several important reforms passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin last year. An A-F grade is important in that it will provide greater transparency for our schools and will draw more parental and community involvement. It is evident that schools that have higher levels of parent and community involvement have better-performing educators and better-prepared students.
Schools will still be examined for helping their children meet grade-level performance standards, but the grading system also adds the dimension of allowing a school to show academic growth. A school’s grade also will include factors such as graduation and dropout rates and the number of students taking Advanced Placement courses for high schools, and attendance rates for elementary schools.
The A-F grading system will replace the current Academic Performance Index, which gave schools a numeric score that topped out at 1,500. The problem was people were constantly unsure of what constituted a good enough score for them to feel comfortable knowing their child was getting an optimal education. The A-F system simplifies that.
Whenever we can simplify the formula and stimulate more involvement in a school, the student will be the winner, and that’s a worthy goal.