Monday, January 7, 2013

Oklahoma gets D+ from national school reform group

Oklahoma Capitol -- A new A-F school report card is out. This report card is not part of the state’s new A-F school grading system that sparked a minor rebellion by many school officials who would rather avoid such accountability.

The national organization StudentsFirst has released report cards grading education policy in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

Oklahoma received an overall grade of D+.

According to the report card summary, the grades do not assess student achievement, school quality, or teacher performance, but rather the policy environments that affect those outcomes.

Oklahoma received its highest component letter grade of C for policies elevating teachers. The lowest component grade was a D- for policies empowering parents. A component grade of D+ was given for how the state spends its education dollars.

The report card calls on Oklahoma to empower parents to make more choices for their children and to expand who can authorize new charter schools. 

The report card also suggests Oklahoma needs to do a better job of ensuring public resources are spent wisely. One suggested change is to “relax” class-size restrictions to provide more flexibility in staffing.

The report card calls for giving more weight to student growth and to “require (teacher) compensation to be based on performance, eliminate pay increases for advanced degrees,” along with several other proposals.

No state received an overall grade of A. More than two-thirds of states received a grade of D or F overall. Only twelve states received an overall grade of a B or C.

The former chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools, Michelle Rhee, heads StudentsFirst.  Its website says the mission of StudentsFirst, “is to build a national movement to defend the interests of children in public education and pursue transformative reform, so that America has the best education system in the world.” According to its website, the organization is working to promote “great teachers, access to great schools, and effective use of public dollars.”

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