State House advances OHLAP measure, changes in A-F system

Last week, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickmanâs measure that refocuses the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) effort towards college completion.

House Bill 2180 calls for students qualifying for OHLAP to complete 30 credit hours per academic year. The completion of 30 credit hours keeps students on track to graduate on time and encourages degree completion, reducing the college dropout rate. The bill also adjusts those who can participate in OHLAP to 5th through 11th grade as opposed to the cut off of 10th grade. The previous requirement also disenfranchised families who may have experienced hard financial times once their child is in high school.

“Oklahoma is aggressively pursuing the goal of increasing the number of college graduates and citizens with higher learning certifications in our state,” said Hickman, R-Fairview. “By increasing the credit hour requirement and expanding the field of applicants, we are creating an incentive for students to achieve their goal of obtaining a degree.”

H.B. 2180 is now under Senate consideration.

In other legislative news touching education policy, the House gave 93-0 approval to a measure that would, a House press release said, “make the A-F school grading system more accurate.”

House Bill 1690, by state Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, would amend the Oklahoma School Testing Program by requiring the academic performance of students who are still taking coursework while receiving rehabilitation or medical care be reported separately from the rest of the student population. Those student’s performance would not be included when determining the school’s grade.

“Oklahoman’s have asked for accountability from our schools,” Caldwell said in the release. “As we work through this process, we must ensure that the information our citizens are receiving is as accurate as possible. This bill gives a clearer picture to our communities while still providing accountability for our schools.”

The bill defines the population to be reported separately as “students who are patients receiving long-term or short-term rehabilitation services or care in a pediatric rehabilitation hospital or medical care setting and are being provided educational services by a school district pursuant to an agreement between the hospital or medical care facility.”

Under the current system, every school receives a grade of A-F except those that have been exempted by statute. This measure would also exempt hospitals or medical care facilities that are considered a “school site” under the statute from the grading system.H.B. 1690 now faces consideration in the Senate.