Tuesday, May 3, 2011

School Grade Bill Headed to Governor

Legislation requiring that Oklahoma school districts be issued letter grades based on student performance was sent to Gov. Mary Fallin yesterday afternoon to be signed into law.
Rep. Lee Denney
"Today, lawmakers moved from talking about education reform to enacting it," said state Rep. Lee Denney, a Cushing Republican who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on education. "The new letter-grading system will provide parents a measurable, concrete and clear apples-to-apples comparison between local schools. As a result, this measure will help determine both our state’s success stories and areas of need, incentivizing improvement and a better product for all Oklahoma children."
Under House Bill 1456, by Denney, Oklahoma’s public schools would be given an annual grade of "A" to "F" based on student performance on state tests.
Under the legislation, annual reports would be issued giving letter grades to schools based on student performance on the Oklahoma School Testing Program.
The grades would be as follows:
"A" means schools making excellent progress;
"B" means schools making above average progress;
"C" means schools making satisfactory progress;
"D" means schools making less than satisfactory progress; and
"F" means schools failing to make adequate progress.
Under the bill, 33 percent of a school’s grade would be based upon test scores, 17 percent learning gains in reading and mathematics, 17 percent on improvement of the lowest 25th percentile of students in the school in reading and mathematics, and 33 percent on whole school improvement.
For middle school grades and elementary school grades, total school improvement will be based upon the drop-out rate, the percentage of students taking higher level coursework at a satisfactory or higher level, and any other factors selected by the superintendent of public instruction.
"This legislation will make it easier for poorer-performing schools to duplicate the strategies of their successful counterparts, benefiting students all across Oklahoma," Denney said. "All Oklahoma children deserve access to a quality education, and this bill will help make that possible."
The legislation is based on a similar plan in Florida.
In 1999, the first year Florida issued letter grades for schools, there were 515 schools that received an A or B, while 677 received Ds or Fs. Performance continually improved until 2,317 schools received As or Bs in 2009, and just 217 received Ds or Fs.
House Bill 1456 gained final passage in the Oklahoma House of Representatives today on a 59-31 vote and now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law.
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