House approves letter grades for schools
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Published: 23-Feb-2011
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 23-Feb-2011

Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted today (Wednesday, February 23) to implement a new grading system – for schools, not just students.

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.
“For too long, people have simply talked about education reform; today, the members of the House actually did something to move our state forward, and I appreciate their support for this bill,” said Denney, a Cushing Republican who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on education. “The new letter-grading system will provide a measurable, concrete way for parents to obtain a true apples-to-apples comparison between local schools.”
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 graduation rates, student performance on the ACT and SAT, and similar factors.
“Assigning each school a letter-grade will help clearly identify success stories in our education and encourage other schools to duplicate their strategies, improving student performance across Oklahoma,” Denney said. “All Oklahoma children deserve access to a quality education, and this bill will help make that possible.”
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.

House Bill 1456 passed the Oklahoma House on a 65-32 vote.

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