The full Senate voted to improve and reform Oklahoma’s A-F grades for public schools. Sen. Clark Jolley, the original author of the A-F legislation, said the idea was to help parents more easily understand how their children’s schools were doing.
Jolley and Rep. Lee Denney, along with other lawmakers and representatives from the governor’s office, formed a working group to examine concerns raised by superintendents, educators and others and determine what modifications should be made. The results are contained in House Bill 1658, co-authored by Jolley and Denney.
“We did not want to change the system simply to get a better result for those school districts in our home towns—our goal is to make sure the formula for calculating the grades is an accurate picture of how schools are doing academically,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “The changes we’ve approved will represent a better reflection of academic performance, while also making the grades easier to calculate and easier for everyone to understand.”
One concern raised was that students’ grades were based on a scale using 90 to 100 for an A, while schools’ A-F grades were based on a grade point average. Under HB 1658, the schools’ grades would be tabulated the same way as students’ grades and it allows for further delineation with pluses and minuses, such as an A+ or B-.
Jolley said the bill also addresses the concern that schools not offering Advanced Placement (AP) Classes or concurrent enrollment were being penalized. Under HB 1658, schools without those programs would not be penalized, but those with AP and concurrent enrollment classes would earn bonus points. The legislation contains additional modifications to the grading formula as well.
“Parents can look at their children’s report card and understand immediately what those grades mean,” said Denney, R-Cushing. “Our goal is to bring that same clarity to the A through F grades for Oklahoma schools.”
HB 1658, which was approved by the Senate on Tuesday, now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.