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Today’s New Mistake; Today’s New Mystery

November 6, 2013

All suspense gone, the State Board of Education approved this year’s A-F Report Cards for schools. There was a fair amount of bluster, including Barresi complaining about people complaining. In the end, the air silently left the balloon, and interested parties logged onto the SDE website to review their grades.













The grade distribution is something resembling a bell curve. When I have some time this weekend, I’ll look more closely at how those grades correspond to schools by different variables, especially poverty. Barresi herself commented that there are more schools receiving a grade of A than last year, as well as more receiving a D or F. Since the SDE didn’t create the formula this year, they seem pretty ambivalent about the results – as long as they’re accepted and communicated.

Along with the live roll-out of school grades, the A-F page also released district grades. Nobody was ready for that, including the SDE. Shortly after the grades were released, district grades were changed to “N/A,” and Tricia Pemberton released this statement:

“The district grades were not ready to be released today, that was completely my error. I thought we were releasing the district and site grades, and we were just releasing site grades today. The district grades will be ready to be released hopefully within a few days. Please ignore the district grade that you saw first, and that will be reposted within a few days.”

That said, you can still go to the A-F Page and download grades for all sites and all districts. (This would be similar to covering your eyes and telling someone, YOU CAN’T SEE ME!) Here’s the letter grade breakdown for districts, which I suppose is now unofficial:













Districts didn’t fare as well as sites, for one main reason: bonus points. The district bonus points were calculated according to the high school scale, which was far less generous. Therefore, district grades in some cases are nearly a full letter grade lower than the average grade of the schools. Given that schools have different levels of enrollment, it’s no surprise that there is a difference. The surprise is that it is this significant.


The other item of note is that the SBE approved a testing vendor for $35 million. They didn’t include any information in the board packet about the testing vendor – just this one paragraph recommendation:

State Board approval is being requested for OMES to award bid for the Oklahoma College and Career Readiness Assessment (OCCRA). This will include grades 3-8 Math and English Language Arts. This test will be operational 2014-2015.

We know a vendor has been recommended. We know this will cost a lot of money. We just don’t know any other thing.

So much for transparency.

  1. November 7, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    According to SDE PR person, it is common practice to not identify the companies by name
    during board meetings because “Department of Central Services/OMES regulations require information related to unissued bids to be kept confidential until OMES formally issues the contract. The information should be available by end of the week once DCS has received the board’s recommendation.”
    I don’t remember this being an issue with other SDE bids and contracts.
    Any thoughts?


  2. Crystal
    November 9, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    When the tests are designed on a bell curve, and all we are looking at is test scores, it’s not surprising that the grades resemble a bell curve.


  3. Harold Brooks
    November 20, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I looked at everything labelled HS, MS or JHS, and ES and then binned everything else together into another category. Most of the “other” are single schools in small towns that I assume are elementary, but I’m not going to go through all of that. “Other” also includes schools that don’t follow the standard naming convention in most of the grade file.

    The results. First, raw counts:

    HS MS/JHS ES Other
    A 211 18 108 21
    B 173 81 218 45
    C 91 105 250 44
    D 21 50 168 34
    F 11 28 99 34

    Second, by percentages for each kind of school (e.g., numbers under HS are percentages of HS getting that grade)

    HS MS/JHS ES Other
    A 41.6 6.4 12.8 11.8
    B 34.1 28.7 25.9 25.3
    C 17.9 37.2 29.7 24.7
    D 4.1 17.7 19.9 19.1
    F 2.2 9.9 11.7 19.1

    HS is that easiest school to get an A or B (3 out of 7 HS are A, 3 out of 4 are B or better). There’s not a lot of difference in the rest of the categories, but MS/JHS is hardest to get an A.


  1. November 9, 2013 at 2:33 pm
  2. November 21, 2013 at 7:27 am
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