State Board of Education, Hofmeister provide report on improving A-F


OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 17, 2015) — As the result of state legislation signed into law this summer, the Oklahoma State Board of Education today received a report by the Oklahoma State Department of Education regarding how to improve the A-F School Report Card system. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister and her fellow board members said further study is warranted, particularly in the wake of uncertainties about a new federal law and a looming state budget shortfall.

The report was the result of House Bill 1823. Signed into law in June, it directed OSDE to study how to strengthen the A-F School Report Cards and present a report on its findings by Dec. 31, 2015. The agency commissioned a study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University and sought input from various advisory councils and the Florida-based Foundation for Excellence in Education.

But Hofmeister said there is more work to do, including a thorough review of the university researchers’ report that the OSDE received one day before today’s board meeting.

“A valid and reliable accountability system is critical for improving Oklahoma schools, but strong accountability doesn’t come about by trying to beat the clock,” she said. “The well-documented problems with our current A-F system began under a compressed time frame. Then legislators tried to fix those issues and inadvertently caused other problems that even jeopardized Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver. If there is one thing we know, it is that developing strong accountability cannot be a timed event.”

Moreover, the requirements of an accountability system are uncertain in the wake of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces the beleaguered No Child Left Behind law. President Obama signed ESSA on Dec. 10 after its overwhelming passage by Congress. The act necessitates a host of rules and guidelines by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) that will not be finalized until October 2016. 

The task of strengthening A-F is further complicated by an expected $900 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year. A significant overhaul of the accountability system potentially means gathering additional indicators that OSDE does not currently have the capacity to collect. That would require an infusion of resources certain to be challenging in the midst of a budget crisis. Earlier this week, Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger announced a possible revenue failure for the remainder of FY 2016.

In reporting to board members, Hofmeister and Dr. Cindy Koss, OSDE deputy superintendent for academic affairs and planning, outlined certain indicators the agency believes would be important to measure in an A-F evaluation. These include:

  • Academic achievement (reading, math, science)
  • Academic growth (cohort groups)
  • Transparency of all subgroups (reading, math, science and graduation rate)
  • Chronic absenteeism
  • Participation rate on state tests
  • Postsecondary and career readiness – Coursework (AP, dual enrollment, CTE, etc.)
  • Postsecondary and career readiness – Exams (ACT, PSAT, SAT, AP, CTE, certification, etc.)
  • Graduation – On track for 9th grade
  • Graduation – Four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (all students)
  • Postsecondary entrance rate – All students (higher education, Career Tech, military)
  • Others as required by ESSA

“We are committed to a valid, meaningful and tough accountability system,” said Hofmeister, “one that is easily understood by educators, parents and communities and provides transparency of how schools are performing. I am confident we will get there.”

###

Last updated on December 17, 2015