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April 28, 2013

Senate approves changes to A-F grading system

MARLOW — A reform by the State Department of Education could be reformed, despite having been adopted in October 2012.

The Oklahoma Senate voted Tuesday to improve and reform the A-F Grading System, which is part of the C3 Plan reform, as instituted by the State Department of Education. The A-F Grading System gives letter grades to schools to make it easier for parents to determine how their child’s school is doing. Because of concerns, legislators began determining what modifications should happen to the bill.  Even before its adoption, the grading system was controversial with school administrators throughout Oklahoma. In October, Duncan Superintendent Sherry Labyer went on record to say the grading system wasn’t an accurate reflection of school performance.

The reform of the grading system, as approved by the Senate, still has to go through the Oklahoma House of Representatives. While student grades are presented on a scale using 90 to 100 for an A, school grades were based on grade-point average. The Senate approved bill would tabulate school grades as students grades are done.

“We are pleased that they are responding to the concerns of school administrators,” Duncan Assistant Superintendent Glenda Cobb said. “The changes will make the grades more reliable.”

The schools in Duncan mostly received B’s, although there was one school that received a C and two others that received D’s. The grading system results were initially supposed to be released Oct. 8, 2012, but the results were postponed until Oct. 25. This delay was caused by concerns within the Oklahoma State Board of Education.

Marlow Superintendent George Coffman said he isn’t completely sure what the change in the grading system will mean for Marlow Public Schools, but he intends to keep a close watch to see what impact it could have on the district.

“I will evaluate what’s in those changes,” Coffman said. “I want to see how it affects us. Tests are not always the best reflection of student success.”

Jolley, R-Edmond, worked closely with Rep. Lee Denney to create House Bill-1658 to modify the grading system. That bill was approved by the Senate on Tuesday and now returns to the House for further consideration.

“We did not want to change the system simply to get a better result for those school districts in our hometowns,” Jolley said. “Our goal is to make sure the formula for calculating the grades is an accurate picture of how schools are doing academically.

“The changes we’ve approved will represent a better reflection of academic performance, while also making the grades easier to calculate and easier for everyone to understand.”

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