Friday, October 23, 2015

The Grades are In: Grove earns A's, B's on state-wide report for second year

Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller /

The Oct. 22 release of the state’s third A-F report card of public school and school district performance has some Delaware County district officials rejoicing, while others are left disappointed.

For the second year in a row, the grades for Grove schools were all A's and B's, while the nearby Jay school district brought in one B-, one D and two F's.

Three area schools, Kenwood, Colcord Elementary and Oaks-Mission High School each had an F on the various report cards. A total of 183 schools state-wide received the F grade.

As a district, Grove Public Schools earned one A and three B's. The lower elementary campus earned an B+, while the upper elementary school had an A. The middle school campus earned a B while the high school had a B-.

Because of the state's grading system, the early childhood center does not receive a separate score. It is instead included in the lower elementary grade.

In comparison, in 2014, Grove schools earned two A's and two B's. The lower elementary campus earned an A-, while the upper elementary school had a B+. The middle school campus earned an A- while the high school had a B.

In 2013, Grove scored A's for the lower and upper elementary campuses, while the middle school earned a B- and the high school earned a B.

In 2012, the first year the state used the grading system, the district received on A and three B's.

Both elementary campuses received 10 bonus points for student attendance, while the middle school's attendance earned six points. The middle school also earned four additional points related dropout rates and advanced coursework. The high school earned two bonus points for advanced coursework and for year to year growth.

State-Wide View

With the testing scores release on Thursday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister indicated she has no confidence in the validity or reliability of the report cards in their current framework.

The reports are determined by Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) officials using a formula mandated by a 2013 state law.

Hofmeister release states the OSDE supports strong accountability for education, but problems with the A-F Report Cards "have seriously undermined the system’s credibility."

"Even the U.S. Department of Education has criticized the report cards and required modifications as a condition for receiving the No Child Left Behind waiver," Hofmeister said in the release which accompanied the grades.

House Bill 1823, which took effect in June, requires the State Board of Education to submit a report on the "transparency, statistical trustworthiness and credibility" of the current A-F system to the governor and legislative leaders by Dec. 31.

Hofmeister said research scientists at Oklahoma’s two leading research universities are among those currently conducting that review and will have recommendations by December.

“I am committed to a system of accountability that is accurate, reliable and meaningful,” Hofmeister said. “In its current form, the A-F Report Cards are too flawed to be useful. I am optimistic that we can have a better system.”

Grove Public Schools

While Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly said she was pleased by the district's results, she, like Hofmeister recognizes the grading system contains flaws.

"Our administrators and teachers work hard," Coaly said. "Our teachers go above and beyond, have countless hours of professional development, but as the State Superintendent will tell you, the system is flawed. It is not a true picture. We certainly cannot put a lot of faith into it.

"I personally feel as if all of our schools are A schools."

Coaly said she hopes Hofmeister's plans to reform the system will create an equal playing field for all schools.

Coaly said much of the district's success can be linked, in part, to the efforts made by the parents - from helping with homework to ensuring students are in class every day.

Jay Public Schools

The Jay school district earned a mixture of grades, ranging from B- to F.

This year the lower elementary received an F, the upper elementary a D, the middle school an F and the high school a B-.

In 2014, three campuses earned D's including the lower elementary a D, the upper elementary a D+ and the middle school a D-, while the high school had a C+.

In 2013, the elementary and middle schools earned D's, while the high school earned an B. The upper elementary school scored the lowest, with an F.

"I don’t think it really reflects what goes on at school every day," said Jay Superintendent Charles Thomas. "I know that we have to have some type of measurement and accountability to see where we are, I just don’t think its a fair measure of where each student and teacher is in their knowledge the curriculum that’s being tested."

Thomas, like Hofmeister, questions how the system grades each school's performance.

“I think if you read all the research about the A-F report card, the system does not accurately measure the performance of the schools or the work, time and expertise those teachers have in directing those students in the classroom," Thomas said.

Turkey Ford School District

Locally, the Turkey Ford School District, which is part of the Grove transportation district, earned a C+ dropping from B in 2014 for its pre-kindergarten to sixth grade campus in rural Wyandotte.

In 2013 it had an A- on its report card. In 2012 the district received a B+.

"We're a little disappointed," said Turkey Ford Superintendent Tamyra Larson. "

Larson, like Hofmeister, questions the validity of the grades.

"I can see results of specific kids, and how we are doing for example, and I know it's not showing up in the grade," Larson said. "The public knows the school, they know what we are doing with their individual kids, they can see the growth.

"I don't like it because anyone who has been in school knows you always strive to do better. C+ isn't better than a B. However, this isn't a true reflection of student academic growth.

"It's a little bit of a morale buster and disheartening for teachers, who know they've put in all that work.

Larson said efforts continue to help students improve reading and math scores.

Cleora School District

Cleora Schools earned an A- on this year's report card.

The grade is an improvement from the B- earned in 2014 and the same score the school received in 2013.

While Cleora Superintendent Kenny Guthrie said he was pleased with the district's score, he has concerns similar to those of Hofmeister and Coaly.

"We're proud of the grade, we think it's reflective of our school, however, we don't have much confidence of the validity of the A-F report card," Guthrie said. "The easiest way to explain it, it's bad math. It just doesn't add up or make sense in a lot of areas."

For example, Guthrie said, schools are graded based upon how the students in the "bottom 25 percent" of a subject show improvement.

In one instance, involving math, Cleora students in the bottom 25 percent were considered "proficient" or already at grade level. Because they continued at grade level, but did not show improvement based upon the way scores are ranked, the district's grade was reduced.

"This is just one small component of everything," Guthrie said. "My opinion would stay the same if we had an A- or a D-.

"We have a great grade, but we don't have a lot of confidence in it."

Chloe Farmer contributed to this story.

More Information

Mandated by state law, the A to F school grades are designed to provide parents, students, businesses and communities with a clear, easily understood snapshot of how local schools are performing.

The 2015 school grades, as released by the Oklahoma Department of Education, are as follows:

A - 212

B - 497

C - 536

D - 333

F - 183

In 2014, by contrast, the state-wide grades were:

A - 284

B - 470

C - 492

D - 292

F - 196

A searchable database of the schools and their scores can be found online at

A Look At The Scores

Area schools with their grades for 2015, 2014 and 2013.

Delaware County School

Cleora: School: A- 2015, B- 2014, A- 2013.

Leach: School: C, D, D-.

Kenwood: School: F, F, F.

Mosley: School: D+, D-, D-.

Jay: Lower elementary: F, D, D; Upper elementary: D, D+, F, Middle school: F, D-, D; and high school: B-, C+, B.

Grove: Lower elementary: B+, A-, A; Upper elementary: A, B+, A; Middle school: B, A-, B-; High school: B-, B, B.

Kansas: Elementary: C-, C, D-; Middle School: D-, D+, C; High School: B, B, C+.

Colcord: Elementary: F, D, C; High School: C-, D, C.

Oaks-Mission: Elementary: D+, F, D; High School: F, B, B-.

Ottawa County Schools

Schools of local interest include:

Turkey Ford: School: C+, B, A-.

Wyandotte: Elementary school: B-, B-, C; Middle school: C, F, F; High school: B, B+, A.

Afton: Elementary school: D+, D+, C.; High school: A-, D+, B+.

Fairland: Elementary school: C, A-, A-; Middle: B-, B-, C+; High school:B-, B-, A.

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 23 issue of The Grove Sun

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