Project Oklahoma: New school grading system has some small schools worried

    Project Oklahoma: New school grading system has some small schools worried (KTUL)

    Small Oklahoma schools, like Mounds High School, face their share of challenges.

    Those challenges include budget cuts delivered by state lawmakers, a teacher shortage, and aging school buildings.

    But one challenge comes right from the education department school report cards.

    “It’s discouraging, on this side of the desk,” said Mounds High School Principal, Stephen Sturgeon.

    In 2016, the high school was given a ‘C’ by the state grading system. This week, state school officials made a big announcement. After two years of work, there’s now a huge overhaul in the school report card system. Sturgeon said the changes needed to happen, but he’s worried the new system may hurt small schools in Oklahoma.

    “Some things really help smaller schools in this situation and some things really hurt the smaller schools,” said Sturgeon.

    Part of the new grading system will measure absentee records and graduation rates. Sturgeon said the way scores are calculated may not accurately represent schools with small class sizes.

    “If you decide to pull your kid out and home school them, you’re not trying to hurt the school,” said Sturgeon. “But you just dinged the school. Now, the school’s graduation rate is 90 percent, and it’ll be a black mark on the school.”

    “That would then be dealt with by having the average over three years, so we’re not just measuring one single class of students, but more a long view,” said State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

    Hofmeister went into detail about the new grading system on Tuesday. When asked about the impact to smaller schools, she said by using averages, small schools won’t be hit hard by the new grading system. She also said the new report cards will offer a lot more information about the school and will help provide context and accountability.

    “We’re going to encourage people to look at larger context at the work are schools are doing and the students they’re serving,” said Hofmeister.

    Both agree, it’s the first year of a new system and there may be some things that need to be ironed out. However, the new system will provide information that hasn’t been shared before.

    “This is kind of giving us what we need to make it better,” said Sturgeon.

    The goal here is to make Oklahoma schools better, no matter what the grade on the report card says.

    To check your schools grade click here.

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