School Grades Mean Community Growth

Now that school grades are out, many districts are organizing their plans for improvement. Parents the state gave letter grades to show you, which schools were failing, and excelling.

With this new understanding, you can decide where you want to live--where you want your children to learn. Channel 8's Kim Jackson says this could change communities.

For a long time Glenpool administrators say they worked to change the image of their school. Now that grade cards are out, they're not hiding them, but showing them off, on the office window, for everyone to see.

The high school is principal is so proud, that he and his staff made signs. The high school received an "A" and they're hoping that will change what others have thought of their school.

"Maybe a small town that was behind a little bit in a lot of ways. So it has been our motivation as an administrative staff, as teaching staff to change that perception," said Jerry Olansen.

Receiving an A shows the work they have done, after lagging test scores in 2006. Now this high school brags about 100-percent graduation and the fact that every senior passed end of year exams.

"I don't know but I think it will help our growing community. Parents want to know about the school when they are deciding where they are going to move," said Olansen.

They have 670 high schoolers, a full house. But realtor Margaret Petty says, move here--and she will find you a place. She's expecting the "A" to attract more families, especially since neighboring Jenks High school received a B.

"I know. I thought that was wonderful, we've always been in competition with Jenks and Bixby. I'm thrilled," said Petty.

Part of the thrill is spreading the news that students are learning, excelling--and making the grade.

They're celebrating the A, but they know this next year, they will have to work keep the grade.

And even though Glenpool received high marks, the administrators say the new grading system needs tweaking.

Other school superintendents agree.

Doctor Jarod Mendenhall of Broken Arrow says, he's pleased with Broken Arrow's scores.
The district made a B overall. But he is not pleased with the new grading system. In a statement, Mendenhall calls the grades "flawed" and "inaccurate".

"I am not at all pleased with the structure of this new grading system. The system contains errors, utilizes poorly derived formulas, and is based on systems that have proven to be flawed in other states, namely Florida. The schools within our district received B's and C's, and the district's overall score is a B. I do not believe these grades are an accurate reflection of the academic achievement that has taken place within our district."

Officials with Owasso Schools said today, this grading system is really nothing new.

"School districts don't oppose accountability since we've had accountability and our scores have been reported since 2001 as a result of No Child Left Behind legislation. Our view of the A-F grading system is that it is this political administration's version of grading schools so it is new but not a foreign expectation for school districts. I suppose it is being claimed as some crowning achievement for the legislature, Governor, and State Superintendent, but we have had accountability and scores reported on the front page of the state's newspapers for over a decade. And we have had no patrons express difficulty in understanding the API index used previously or holding us accountable daily. We are used to and accept accountability."

And at Union Public Schools, administrators are disappointed with the ruling.

Executive Director of Communications, Gretchen Haas-Bethell says, they "wish the State Board of Education had been more sensitive to concerns, expressed by parents and educators throughout Oklahoma, about the validity of the calculations. The grades for Union Schools, which range from A through C, will be made available to our parents with an explanation of the calculations which state leaders have conceded are flawed."