Ed­u­ca­tion think tank praises state’s school plan

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - Staff Writer bfelder@ok­la­homan.com BY BEN FELDER

Ok­la­homa’s new fed­eral-com­pli­ant pub­lic school plan re­ceived high marks from the Ford­ham In­sti­tute, which re­viewed every state plan sub­mit­ted un­der the Every Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act (ESSA).

Ok­la­homa was one of seven states to re­ceive a per­fect score from the Washington-based con­ser­va­tive think tank.

Ford­ham’s analysis stated Ok­la­homa’s new school plan uses “rat­ings that clearly and in­tu­itively con­vey to all ob­servers and con­stituen­cies how well a given school is per­form­ing. They sig­nal that all stu­dents mat­ter by en­sur­ing that at least 50 per­cent of schools’ an­nual rat­ings are com­posed of mea­sures of growth for all stu­dents and/or mea­sures of achieve­ment that look be­yond pro­fi­ciency rates. And they’re fair to all schools — in­clud­ing those with high rates of poverty — by virtue of mak­ing growth mea­sures of any kind con­sti­tute at least half of schools’ sum­ma­tive rat­ings.”

Ok­la­homa’s plan, called Ok­la­homa Edge, out­lines the stan­dards pub­lic schools are to meet and spells out how schools are rated in the A-through-F grad­ing sys­tem.

The plan is wait­ing fi­nal ap­proval from the U.S. De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion un­der the new guide­lines of ESSA, which re­placed No Child Left Be­hind.

State ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers say Ok­la­homa’s new plan puts a greater em­pha­sis on stu­dent growth and track­ing the per­for­mance of mi­nor­ity stu­dents in a more tar­geted way.

The plan in­cludes goals of be­com­ing a top 20 state in aca­demic per­for­mance in fourth and eighth grade (Ok­la­homa cur­rently ranks be­low the na­tional av­er­age), to cut in half the need for math and English lan­guage arts re­me­di­a­tion af­ter high school, rank in the top 10 na­tion­ally in grad­u­a­tion rates and re­duce the need for emer­gency-cer­ti­fied teachers by 95 per­cent.

State schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Joy Hofmeis­ter said Ford­ham’s praise rec­og­nizes Ok­la­homa’s en­hanced vi­sion for pub­lic school stu­dents.

“ESSA pro­vided us with a golden op­por­tu­nity to re­turn to the draw­ing board to craft a new, more re­li­able, valid and mean­ing­ful vi­sion for school ac­count­abil­ity in Ok­la­homa,” Hofmeis­ter said in a state­ment. “I am thrilled that the Ford­ham In­sti­tute has rec­og­nized our state plan as one that will lead to higher aca­demic out­comes for all Ok­la­homa schools.

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