Changes Ahead for "A-F" School Grading System

The Oklahoma Senate approves a bill that would make changes to the state's A-F grading system for schools.

"We decided we needed to do a major overhaul of it this year," said Rep. Lee Denney (R- Cushing), who authored the bill.

House Bill 1658 passed with a 31-13 vote. Rep. Denney says the grading system will place more emphasis on academic performance and change grading factors like parental involvement, graduation rates, attendance, AP course offerings, and dropout rates into bonus factors.

"Our teachers do a great job," she said, "we have great schools here, and we've got to showcase those schools."

The A-F grading system met tremendous opposition last year from many Oklahoma school administrators, and some educators still believe the overhaul is not enough.

Sen. Earl Garrison (D- Muskogee) voted against the bill Wednesday. He has been an educator for 40 years and sits on the Education Committee.

"The worst thing you can do with any kind of a grading system is put a grading system in place that's not fair," said Sen. Garrison.

Sen. Garrison says the grading system does not put enough emphasis on the type of students teachers have in each classroom.

"There is a relationship between achievement and poverty," he explained.

Despite opposition, Rep. Denney emphasizes the A-F grading system is a system that not only holds schools accountable, but is easy for parents to understand.

"It's about keeping Oklahoma schools accountable, but to me it's more than that," she said, "it's about economic development and it's a tool for families to use as they decide where they want to live and put their kids in school."

The bill will go to a conference committee before heading to the governor's desk.