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Write Your Own Letter

September 12, 2012

Late this afternoon, the SDE sent out a Leadership Post to email subscribers (though it isn’t showing up on their website). I’ve included it in full below.

In late August, you received notice of your opportunity to review embargoed, preliminary A-F Report Card Data under the new A-F School Grading System in the School District Reporting Site. Separately, you were provided with preliminary School Status Designations to review.
This is a reminder to please take this opportunity to review your data to make sure it is accurate and that all data has been provided to the State Department of Education before we calculate and release your report cards and determine your designations. We need 100 percent participation from districts.
Please remember, because the information is embargoed and has not been verified, this preliminary data will not be released to the public until after all school districts have been provided with an appropriate opportunity for review, as detailed in the rules adopted by the State Board of Education earlier this year.
Because this information is embargoed, preliminary and unverified, the State Department of Education is also requesting that districts not release the unverified data or preliminary information to the public until after report cards have been unveiled publicly to the state in early October.
Some districts have asked for rank-ordered lists of each district. To release this information at this point would not be accurate or fair to you or other districts. At this point, as we are still collecting data and making corrections daily, the data is in a constant state of flux. Such a list would be obsolete almost immediately.
If you need additional help, please refer to the A-F Report Card Guide, which gives a detailed account of calculations for each component of the school letter grade. You also can refer to the A-F Report Card Data Sources guide. Our office of Accountability and Assessment is working with districts to answer questions and ensure the accuracy of the data.
A-F Report Cards will be released to the public in early October, after districts across the state have had the opportunity to review data and after the data has been verified.
For help with communicating about report cards to the public, the State Department of Education has also made available an A-F Report Card District Communications Toolkit.
School Status Designations under the EASEA Waiver will be brought before the State Board of Education for approval at a later date. These are separate from the A-F Report Card. We will not publicly roll-out designations in the same way as A-F Report Cards. These are for federal reporting purposes and are a mechanism of communication that will lead to specific supports and strategies for districts to initiate internally as they work with the students.

So … so many things about this Leadership Post bother me. It’s probably best to enumerate them.

  1. The SDE has really confused a lot of school people with the A-F grades, separate School Status Designations, and the inevitable revisions that have followed. In what universe is this new accountability system – which they admit is akin to a moving target – simpler and more transparent? Does anyone in any school district in Oklahoma honestly believe that parents will understand this accountability system better than API?
  2. School districts got preliminary results in August. The results are being embargoed for at least six weeks. I can’t remember having information for that long and not being able to share it with school patrons.
  3. If you click through to the toolkit, you can see that the SDE has written a sample letter for school districts to lose. I’ll probably do a separate post later just discussing the ways in which this letter bothers me. Suffice it to say, most school districts will be writing their own letters.
  4. Schools are already being asked to act on the preliminary status designations. They won’t be finalized for at least two more State Board of Education meetings. Schools would be wise to watch this process slowly and act deliberately. Because of the way in which the ESEA Waiver was written, if one school successfully appeals a Priority or Focus designation, another school will replace it. One school’s gain is another school’s nightmare.
  5. Another thing schools should examine closely is that some of the data approved in the state A-F rules are not included in the report card calculations. That could be grounds for appeal right there.

School districts are spending hours pouring over all of this information because of what the labels will mean to their communities. Hopefully, the SDE will get close to being accurate at least.

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  1. September 14, 2012 at 9:46 am

    FYI
    >Oklahoma City Superintendent Karl Springer said the new system includes a “complicated appeals process and examining the confusing parameters that determine a school’s grade.”
    He added, “This is not a personal assault on the leadership at the Oklahoma State Department of Education; but an opportunity to let the public know that as the leader of Oklahoma City Public Schools, I have concerns with how the grades are calculated and I believe this reform measure is not an adequate measure of progress for our students.”<
    Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=19&articleid=20120914_19_A1_Withle608957

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  1. October 23, 2012 at 6:19 am
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