Oklahoma Parents Don’t Like Jeb Bush’s Florida Model

From Tulsa World reporter Kim Archer:

JENKS – Tulsa-area parents told legislators Friday that the state’s A to F grades for all Oklahoma schools should be retracted in light of a report slamming the validity of the school report card system.

At a meeting of the Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee, about 90 parents and some teachers met in small groups with nine legislators, including a co-sponsor of the legislation that established the A-F grade system, Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing.

She said she was disheartened to hear the conclusions of policy experts at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. Denney said she believes that the formula should have been configured by statisticians and psychometrists.

Still, she said, “I don’t think we need a knee-jerk reaction.”

The report cards were released for the first time last fall.

According to the report’s authors, the grading system “misinforms the public about the credibility and utility of the A-F accountability system.”

The report was written by three senior research scientists and four research associates at the Oklahoma Center for Education Policy at OU and two senior research scientists at OSU’s Center for Educational Research and Evaluation. It was reviewed by an education researcher at the University of Colorado and a psychologist and psychometrician who is a professor and provost at OSU.

“Despite good intentions, the features of the Oklahoma A-F grading system produce school letter grades that are neither clear, nor comparable; their lack of clarity makes unjustified decisions about schools,” the report says.

Jeb Bush went to Oklahoma  in 2010 to urge lawmakers to adopt his Florida model. It’s not flying with some Oklahoma parents.

Department officials said the changes are in proposed legislation and will be included in rules that are being drafted.

“We believe that A-F is a very important reform that has been welcomed by the general public,” the statement says.

Denney said the grading system is law but that it should be improved.

“The total intent of the legislation was to give a thumbnail sketch of how schools are doing,” she said. “What Florida says is they’ve tweaked their (A-F system) for 10 years.”

“I don’t think Florida is the bar,” Owasso parent Kimberly Cacciola said. “Honestly, there’s damage being done with this. It makes our state not look so appealing.”

Parents and teachers also expressed displeasure with the state’s new requirement that high school students pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to graduate.

Students who do not meet the requirements and believe they have extenuating circumstances may ask the state Board of Education to waive that requirement.

Looks like the Florida model brings the same problems to Oklahoma schools, students and families that we experience here in Florida. It’s lost on Oklahoma legislators – and Bush – that Florida’s need to  “tweak” our school grade formula for 10 years illustrates the folly in attempting to establish such a formula in the first place. They don’t realize that the ultimate goal that drives decisions within schools is the school grade and not establishing and maintaining an infrastructure to every student’s  needs. Some parents in Oklahoma realizes their kids are faced with this cold reality.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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