This has been a landmark week for education reform in Oklahoma. I’m writing this message a day after our March State Board of Education meeting, during which we advanced two significant reforms.
The first is our new A-F school grading system. The law was put in place last year, and it was something I’ve advocated for since taking office. The Board yesterday approved a new set of rules to provide guidance to school districts and the public about how this new system will work.
There’s already a lot of information publicly available about school performance, we just need to make it more clear-cut and easier to understand. And now, parents and community members throughout our state will be able to examine school performance by seeing a clear-cut A through F letter grade.
The A through F grading system replaces the current Academic Performance Index, which gave schools a numeric score of 0 to 1,500. With the old system, people were unsure of what constituted a good enough score for them to feel comfortable knowing their child was getting an optimal education. The A through F system simplifies that.
We anticipate releasing the first letter grades for school performance across the state at the start of the next school year.
The State Board of Education this week also took the next step toward what we’re calling our C3 Partnership. The Board heard a progress report and reviewed a list of C3 Partnership Schools. In April, they’ll meet again to consider approving that list.
Throughout the past year, you’ve heard me talk about my C3 Plan – to have every child in Oklahoma ready for college, career and citizenship by the year 2020. Part of the C3 plan is to establish all-inclusive partnerships with a few districts that have very low-performing schools. There are 75 schools across the state that fall into the lowest five percent of performing schools. We’ve spent a great deal of time examining these schools, talking to administrators, community members and educators—all to develop a concentrated group of the seven schools that we’ve identified for C3 School Partnerships.
These partnerships will include a variety of new instructional models and interventions, developed in cooperation with the community. Here’s the bottom line: The clock is ticking, these schools need help, and the situation must improve for the students who attend them.
We’re looking forward to working with school districts, parents and teachers – hand in hand—so that the students in these schools are better prepared for academic success.