While Alabama continues to spend great amounts of time and money to prepare for A-F school report cards, the unsatisfactory experiences of other states on the same system are ignored. Oklahoma released their 2016 report cards the end of October. As this article in the Tulsa World points out, educators agree that they are generally worthless.
Here are excerpts:
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist called the state accountability system “completely flawed.”
“These grades are meaningless, and I think it’s important for the public to understand that for the second year, at least, they need to dismiss this information,” Gist said. “The only reason this information is even being released publicly is because it is required. It is a bureaucratic exercise. Everyone in the state — everyone — understands that this current system is not an accurate reflection of school performance in Oklahoma.”
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has been a leading critic of the state’s current school grading system, pointing most often to its “masking” of both student growth indicators, as well as troubling trends like too-low high school graduation rates.
“We have to think about what each student deserves — the advanced student deserves to grow, the student with very severe deficits in learning should have high priority placed on them just as much. And so this is something that can be addressed through the way we structure our new accountability system,” Hofmeister said after Thursday’s board meeting.
The grade cards were intended to make it easy for parents and communities to gauge the performance of public schools, but their legitimacy has been undermined by public criticism from educators and parents, as well as multiple rounds of analysis by research scientists from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
(Hamilton Elementary principal Tera) Carr expressed concern about the impact the school’s F grade has on her students.
“I don’t want them to feel like the letter that’s being placed on them has to dictate who they are,” Carr said.
At Anderson Elementary School, which the state assigned a letter grade of F, 70 percent of third-graders experience one or more year of growth in reading on the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, assessment, according to TPS.
“Honestly, it’s hurtful, and a little bit painful, but we keep it in perspective,” Anderson Principal Tracy Thompson said about the school report cards.
Anderson is made up of students living in a low socioeconomic status, and many of them don’t perform well on tests — like those the state’s school accountability system relies upon — that measure a lot of background knowledge, Thompson said.
“We welcome all of the accountability. … But we just want it to be fair,” Thompson said.
Thompson said teachers and school officials are constantly tracking data measuring student performance and using it to improve their teaching, and she told anecdotes of parents and state officials who have been shocked by the school’s F grade after seeing the progress its students are making.
“That’s a great feeling, that even the community realizes it’s a flawed system,” Thompson said.
But still, for teachers at Anderson, Thompson said the school report card is like a “once-a-year slap in the face.”
“I tell my teachers: You’re the best, and we’ll wear any scarlet letter they want us to, but we’re doing the day-to-day work for children and with children, and that’s what matters,” Thompson said.”
But like lemmings hurtling toward the sea or lambs going to slaughter, Alabama continues to trudge along this path of futility doing what we often do, ignoring the voices of education experts and kowtowing to political pressure.