Bill Instituting New A–F School Grading System Goes to Governor

Apr 20, 2017

A new A–F school grading system appears set to become law in Oklahoma.

To comply with new federal education law, House Bill 1693 says schools will get several A–F grades on individual indicators along with one overall letter grade. The bill sets Oklahoma's indicators as statewide assessments, high school graduation rates, statewide academic measures for elementary and middle schools, English language proficiency for English learners, and one yet to be determined.

The additional measure could be school climate, school safety, student or educator engagement, advanced coursework, postsecondary readiness, or something else not yet identified.

Senator J.J. Dossett said as a retired teacher, he believes educators who say letter grades should be done away with entirely.

"You can hide a lot of things that a school with a decent grade is doing and that parents need to know," Dossett said. "Parents need to know they don't have a good — you pick it — special ed program. They're not good for mathematics. They're not good for reading."

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires school accountability plans but does not mandate letter grades.

Other opponents are unhappy with the new rubric. Senator Josh Brecheen said an eight-year period for schools to show subject proficiency improvement is too long.

"That's an entire generation of students that we will not be ensuring are being challenged in the classroom," Brecheen said.

Senator Anastasia Pittman said more grades mean more details to reassure parents already concerned about schools' performance, which, in turn, helps struggling schools.

"And if we can't get them to look at any other grade other than an 'F' in my district, then you might as well say goodbye to me as the only African-American female serving in the Senate, because there will never be another African-American female who can feel successful about serving in this body and contributing to the success rate of our educational system," Pittman said.

HB1693 passed the Senate 32–13. The new system could cost up to $1.6 million to implement.