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Oklahoma's A-Through-F School Report Cards Down From Last Year

Jacob McCleland

The State Board of Education released the newest A-through-F school report cards at Thursday’s board meeting.

Overall, grades were down this year. This year’s tally included 196 A’s, 455 B’s, 582 C’s, 319 D’s and 213 F’s. By contrast, in 2015, schools earned 212 A’s, 497 B’s, 536 C’s, 333 D’s and 183 F’s.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she isn’t sure why there's a dip, and said it would be irresponsible to make a guess, but her department will start digging through the data looking for answers.

“So the question becomes, once we find and determine the root reason for that, what are we going to do about it? I can tell you that it’s going to require resources,” Hofmeister said.

Educators have accused the A-F School Report Card of being inaccurate in the past, and the State Department of Education is currently addressing some of those concerns as it revises the system to comply with the new federal education law commonly referred to as ESSA.  

Hofmeister said the new A-F Report Card will include graduation rates as part of the grade calculation.

"You cannot be a school with a below a 67 percent graduation rate, and still achieving an A or a B," Hofmeister said. "That’s a flawed system that we have identified that needs to be changed."

There will also be more focus on student growth, and not just achievement.

“The difference would be that we will have a way to measure growth of our special student populations, those that are most at-risk and in need of support," Hofmeister said. "Whether they are economically disadvantaged, or  those who are from a minority population that has protected focus at the federal level."

Hofmeister also released her budget proposal for next school year at Thursday’s meeting. The budget request seeks additional funding to address the teacher shortage and teacher training, which she hopes  has an effect on student achievement. 

Her Fiscal Year 2018 request includes a total increase of $221 million more than was appropriated in FY 17. Hofmeister is requesting an increase of $56.7 million in order to keep pace with student growth for next year, an additional $ 39 million to take care of rising health care costs, and $15 million to start a pilot teacher mentoring program. The total budget request is for $2.64 billion. 

Hofmeister also included, as an addendum, a request for $ 282 million to provide teachers with a $3,000 pay raise

She said her office knows what they need to do, but are lacking the resources to achieve many of their goals.

“Schools are ready and want to improve,” Hofmeister said. “But we must be there to advocate for what they need and most importantly for what each individual students deserves.”

In graduate school at the University of Montana, Emily Wendler focused on Environmental Science and Natural Resource reporting with an emphasis on agriculture. About halfway through her Master’s program a professor introduced her to radio and she fell in love. She has since reported for KBGA, the University of Montana’s college radio station and Montana’s PBS Newsbrief. She was a finalist in a national in-depth radio reporting competition for an investigatory piece she produced on campus rape. She also produced in-depth reports on wind energy and local food for Montana Public Radio. She is very excited to be working in Oklahoma City, and you can hear her work on all things from education to agriculture right here on KOSU.
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