State test scores mixed for local school districts

J-C Staff Reports

The Oklahoma State Board of Education released the A-F school report cards last Wednesday afternoon, showing mixed results for Osage County school districts.

The controversial — and some say flawed — grading system that was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature is intended to encourage transparency in local school results.

Pawhuska Public Schools ranged on the low end of the controversial scale as both Pawhuska Indian Camp and Pawhuska elementary schools scored a D+. Pawhuska Junior High School fared a little better at C, but Pawhuska High School was rated D-.

According to reports, the state-issued report cards had to throw out writing scores across the state because testing results from vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill gave many students the same scores. Additionally, online testing difficulties at the end of the 2013-2014 school year also provided for inaccuracies.

Even with those deficiencies in the metrics to provide letter-grade scores for schools, embattled State Superintendent Janet Barresi said in a statement that accountability is still key to this process.

“The A-F report cards are vital to ensuring accountability,” she said in a written statement. “Parents and communities must know what schools are excelling and what schools need additional help. In so doing, Oklahoma educators and schools can build on successes and focus on particular challenges.”

Barresi said the results show Oklahoma overall is still failing students, but did acknowledge there is more to the story.

“These grades do not tell the entire story of a school, nor are they intended to,” Barresi said. “But they do provide an important and concise look at how a school is performing in terms of academic achievement.”

Barresi was recently defeated in the GOP primary election.

Gov. Mary Fallin also issued a statement last week stressing the importance of empowering parents by providing them with information on the performance of schools.

“The A-F grading system is designed to empower parents by providing them with an easily understood measurement of how a school is performing,” she said in the statement. “This year’s grades demonstrate that Oklahoma has hundreds of ‘A’ schools and many pockets of excellence. It also continues to show — as we have known for years — that there are many schools that are struggling. The superintendents and teachers of schools receiving a D or an F must remember: a bad grade is not a punishment; it is a call to action.”

One Osage County district was graded particularly harshly under the state criteria.

According to the state report card, Osage Hills Public School — located in the far east side of the county near Bartlesville — was among the 200 Oklahoma schools to receive an F for the 2013-2014 school year.

The number of Oklahoma schools that received the failing grade was up 18.5 percent from the previous school year

According to the report card, Osage Hills received a grade of 59, which translates to the ‘F’ mark from the state. For the 2012-2013 school year, the district received a C. The new report card shows that the district received failing marks in five of the eight areas where the school is evaluated.

Osage Hills Superintendent Jeanne O’Daniel is among a growing number of local superintendents who say the report card system is riddled with flaws.

“Obviously the staff, students and parents at Osage Hills School are not happy with the A-F Report Card grade we received,” O’Daniel said in a statement sent to the newspaper. “We do not believe that it is an accurate measure of our students’ academic abilities or of the good work our teaching staff does on a daily basis.”

State Report Card grades from other area school districts include: Bowring Public School - B; Wynona Elementary School - C-, Wynona High School - C; Barnsdall Elementary School - C, Barnsdall Junior High School - D, Barnsdall High School - B.

Reporter Nathan Thompson contributed to the report.