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Let's grade students and schools!

February 28, 2011 J

Every so often a measure comes out of our legislature that is not only great, but pretty awesome and revolutionary as well.

This week, one such bill reached that level, as Rep. Lee Denney’s House Bill 1456 passed out of the full House by a 65-32 vote.

So what is so revolutionary about this bill? A new way to gauge how our schools perform and operate, that’s what. Here’s a rundown of just what this bill aims to do:

*Hands out grades to schools just like that of a report card for students

*Grades would be based on performance by students under the Oklahoma School Testing Program

*Schools would receive an A through F rating depending on performance

*Grade would be based on a combination of student test scores on all criterion-referenced tests and end-of-instruction tests, student learning gains in reading and mathematics, and improvement of the lowest twenty-fifth percentile of students in reading and mathematics

*50 percent of the school grade for high schools would be based on the above-listed factors and the other half of the grade would be graduation rates, student performance on the ACT and SAT

Rep. Denny believes her measure will help compare schools across the state in a better fashion.

“For too long, people have simply talked about education reform; today, the members of the House actually did something to move our state forward, and I appreciate their support for this bill,” said Denney, a Cushing Republican who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on education. “The new letter-grading system will provide a measurable, concrete way for parents to obtain a true apples-to-apples comparison between local schools.”

This may seem like a small step, but in the long run it could be a giant leap for the state in its quest to reform and advance education. For too long, this state has done the wrong things when it comes to trying to fix the problems in education (like just throwing more money at problems). This could very well provide us with a concrete way to gauge where our schools are at – and which schools need more focus to raise its performance.

AFP-Oklahoma strongly endorses this bill and hopes the Senate and Gov. Fallin will support this measure so we can begin to truly address the problems we have in the educational field.

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