Denney’s bill would grade school performance

Legislative Staff Release
Published 15-Feb-2011

Under legislation approved in a House Committee today (Tuesday, February 15), Oklahoma students won’t be the only ones receiving a grade; their schools will as well.

Under House Bill 1456, by state Rep. Lee Denney, Oklahoma’s public schools would be given an annual grade of “A” to “F” based on student performance on state tests.
“The new letter-grading system will provide a measurable, concrete way for parents to obtain a true apples-to-apples comparison between local schools,” said Denny, a Cushing Republican who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on education. “The grades will help clearly identify success stories in Oklahoma’s school system and allow their strategies to be duplicated in other schools.”
The legislation is based on a similar plan in Florida.
In 1999, the first year Florida issued letter grades for schools, there were 515 schools that received an A or B, while 677 received Ds or Fs. Performance continually improved until 2,317 schools received As or Bs in 2009, and just 217 received Ds or Fs.
“The intent of this bill is not to embarrass any school district, but to recognize excellence and duplicate it throughout our state,” Denney said. “Florida has proven that this model works and does incentivize improved performance. All Oklahoma children deserve access to a quality education, and this bill will help make that possible.”
Under the legislation, annual reports would be issued giving letter grades to schools based on student performance on the Oklahoma School Testing Program.
The grades would be as follows:
•                “A”  means schools making excellent progress;
•                “B”  means schools making above average progress;
•                “C” means schools making satisfactory progress;
•                “D” means schools making less than satisfactory progress; and
•                “F” means schools failing to make adequate progress.
Schools receiving an “A” or those that improve at least two grade levels in a year would be rewarded by granting them greater authority over the allocation of the state-funded portion of the school’s budget.
Each school’s grade would be based on a combination of student test scores on all criterion-referenced tests and end-of-instruction tests, student learning gains in reading and mathematics, and improvement of the lowest twenty-fifth percentile of students in reading and mathematics.
For high schools, 50 percent of the school grade would be based on the above-listed factors and the other half of the grade would be based on
•                the district’s high school graduation rate;
•                performance and participation of students in College Board Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, concurrent enrollment courses, Advanced International Certificate of Education courses, and national industry certification;
•                students’ SAT and ACT scores;
•                the high school graduation rate of students who scored as limited or unsatisfactory on eighth-grade criterion-referenced tests in reading and mathematics; and
•                student performance on the end-of-instruction tests.
House Bill 1456 cleared the House Common Education Committee today. It will now proceed to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.