State superintendent defends contested grading system

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Updated: 11/06/2013 5:40 pm Published: 11/06/2013 4:19 pm

The State Board of Education certified the A through F school grades for close to 1,800 schools across the state, including 70 here in Tulsa.

More than 160 schools received F grades across Oklahoma, including 36 in Tulsa Public Schools.

On Tuesday, TPS superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard called the grades meaningless and the formula flawed. On Wednesday, state superintendent Dr. Janet Baressi defended the system.

She said the scores are accurate, even with tougher academic standards this year. She also said administrators across Green Country bashing the formula are just playing politics.

"They're meaningless. Those grades are meaningless to us," said Ballard on Tuesday.

He said a system that gave six Tulsa schools lower grades even though they improved test scores was flawed.

Baressi said that's just because the state held schools to higher standards this year.

"It's figured differently than last year. So, it's almost an apples to oranges comparison between last year and this year. And it resulted in a very different distribution. Let's point out: We've got a lot more A's this year," she said.

Ballard said he's not opposed to the A through F grading system, but he feels like educators and administrators had no input on the formula.

"I will say that had we been invited to the table, had we been listened to, we could have talked about the importance for improvement being in an A through F formula," he said.

Baressi said that's simply not true.

"I have a leadership advisory team of 60 superintendents from school districts from across the state. If they're saying they're not being heard, I find that quite curious because their suggestions drove the change to the grading system," she said.

Even though there is no punishment for schools with low grades Ballard said it sends the wrong message to teachers, parents and students working to improve.

"I do not believe any Tulsa schools deserve an F grade," he said.

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