Dept. of Education released incorrect grades for Oklahoma school districts

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 11/07/2013 5:26 pm Published: 11/07/2013 3:31 pm

The State Department of Education is admitting today that it made a mistake by posting A through F grades for districts on Wednesday, in addition to the A through F grades for individual schools.

Shortly after posting the district grades online, the department removed them, but not before many districts saw inaccurate grades for themselves.

FOX23 spoke with officials in the State Department of Education's communications office, who said it was their mistake posting inaccurate district grades before they were ready.

In fact, they tell us the C grades many districts saw were random, arbitrary place holders.

Twenty-four hours ago, Union Public Schools Superintendent Kirt Hartzler went online to see a C grade for Union, even though the district earned a B-.

"The message two weeks ago was that we're delaying again to make sure that we're 100 percent accurate with the releasing of the grades. So, yeah, I don't really know what to think," said Hartzler.

But even if they were posted accurately and even though Union got a better grade than most districts, Hartzler is adamantly opposed to the grading formula, which he says relies too heavily on standardized tests, alone.

He judges his district's success on graduation rates.

"From 2012 to 2013, all but two students have met the requirements of the high-stakes test requirements for graduation," he said.

With 2,200 students he gives Union an A+.

Despite how effective state superintendent Janet Barresi says it is, Hartzler says Roy Clark Elementary school is proof the formula is flawed.

Last year it was given a C-. This year it dropped to a D-.

"It's pretty gut-wrenching, to be honest," he said.

Especially after all of the praise for making huge improvements Clark Principal Theresa Kiger has received lately.

"This past year I received the Oklahoma principal of the year. And just came back from Washington, D.C., last week as being named a national distinguished principal for Oklahoma," said Kiger.

"We're looking at the whole child at Clark. We're not just looking at a test score. Our score, is not proof of the success that we have at Clark," she said.

That's why Hartzler said he agrees with area superintendents in saying, "I just cannot place a lot of value and a lot of meaning in these grades."

State education officials said they will have accurate district grades posted online by the end of the day Friday.

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