Tulsa Public Schools Releases "Deeply Flawed" A-F Grades Early

Nov 5, 2013

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard speaks Tuesday at the district's release of its A-F school report card grades. The Oklahoma Board of Education will certify the grades Wednesday.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Public Schools released its A-F school report card grades today, and more schools are receiving an F than all other grades combined.

The Oklahoma Board of Education should certify the grades in a special meeting Wednesday, but for now, 36 TPS schools are getting F's, 17 schools are getting D's, four schools are getting C's, 10 schools are getting B's and seven schools are getting A's.

TPS Superintendent Keith Ballard railed against the state education board for its new grading system, which may have bumped several district schools from a D down to an F.

According to the district, four elementary schools — Burroughs, Hawthorne, Anderson and Emerson — posted double-digit percentage increases in students scoring proficient and above on state testing but still moved from a D to an F.

"That is the most serious flaw that I see in this," Ballard said. "Think about what it means to be an F school. Think about what you're saying to students, and to parents, and to teachers, and to administrators who go every day to these schools."

Ballard agreed with a report from researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University that calls into question the validity of the grading system. But he did not agree with the idea that teachers don't have much of an impact, pointing to a group that moved from Eisenhower Elementary to Anderson Elementary.

"Rockstar teachers — who had been doing terrific work at what would have been an A school — go out there, and the turnaround at Anderson Elementary was a 13 percent gain in the number of students [achieving proficiency or above]," Ballard said.

Ballard also criticized the state education board for problems with online testing and inconsistencies in the school report card system, saying some TPS schools have seen their grades change 10 times leading up to today.