The Duncan Banner

November 10, 2013

Community support important for schools

The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Results of the second annual and controversial A-F Report Card for Oklahoma public school districts and schools were released with mixed reviews and opinion last week.

Implemented by the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the system, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said, is “part of a larger comprehensive effort to heighten accountability and transparency for Oklahoma schools, providing parents and communities with readily understood information about how well their local schools are doing.

“Our students,” she continued, “don’t know less than they did and teachers are not doing a poor job. Far from it. Classroom teachers are working hard, responding to more rigorous standards that will help children be prepared for successful and happy lives.”

How accurately the Report Card system meets that mission statement remains uncertain.

Twenty percent of state schools — 354, to be exact — received overall grades of A. A year ago, only 160 attained that level. Conversely, 416 schools received Ds or Fs, up from last year’s 148 total for Ds and Fs.

Of scores posted for 31 area districts and schools, nine showed improvement, led by A+ scores at Central High high school and Central High elementary. Two remained the same and 20 showed a decrease.

What that means, honestly, remains uncertain

Duncan Assistant Superintendent Merry Stone said “we don’t give any credence to the grades” after seeing the Duncan district’s D+ rating. “We don’t have any failing schools.”

The significant point is all systems can, should and must improve regardless of the respective or collective rating. Each community must continue to increase its commitment to a quality local education system. And each system must provide classroom teachers the necessary support and tools needed to challenge students in the learning process. Developing the ability to think, to reason, to communicate and to research are skills more important than any letter grade.