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A-F Grades has many shaking their heads

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The recent and well-documented statewide A-F school report card issue has made me think back to my days as a classroom teacher.  When I had my first parent-teacher conferences, I remember a particular parent that questioned how I arrived at their child’s grade.  I had devised what I thought to be a really great system for figuring the grades of my students.  The parent’s challenge made me defensive partly because I had taken ownership of the system and partly because the parent was making a valid point and I was insecure enough to truly feel challenged.  Ultimately, the system I had created was difficult to explain or defend to those who “didn’t see it my way”.  That setting reminded me of something my father used to say, “don’t get too cute.”  Simply stated, we should never create rules that cannot be explained or defended.  The staff at the State Department of Education must be feeling like I did on that night in Apache, OK.

Guthrie Superintendent Mike Simpson

I have been reviewing our report cards carefully.  We will provide a comprehensive review at the Board of Education Meeting on November 12.  One item worth highlighting is how the grades at Cotteral, Central and Fogarty Elementary were figured.  The current school grading system was written for traditional elementary configurations which typically include kindergarten through fifth grade in one building from a particular region of the community.  Guthrie has utilized grade centers since the late 1960’s (our elementary students are assigned a building by grade rather than region of our community).  The State Department of Education made no allowances for our somewhat unique grade configuration.

If you look closer at the grade card for Cotteral Elementary, you will find the grade is figured by taking the attendance for the 2011-12 school year and averaging it with the grade derived from the reading and math scores of the 2011-12 third grade class.  So the attendance for Cotteral Elementary was 93.3% (this is a B for the state grading scale) and last year’s third graders had a 69% on their reading and math scores for a D.  The average of those two yields the final grade of 2.00 or a C.

The same method was employed for Central and Fogarty Elementary as well.

If you are currently shaking your head, you are not alone!  With the current system, Cotteral Elementary is graded on attendance last year and test scores of last year’s third graders (who haven’t attended Cotteral in 4 years).  We will continue to work with our legislators and staff at the State Department of Education as this system is refined to provide you with relevant information about how each school is performing.  Because of the methods used and the grade configuration we employ in Guthrie, the relevance of the current system is questionable for Cotteral, Central and Fogarty Elementary.

The data for our other buildings (Upper Elementary, Junior High and High School) is somewhat more relevant.  We are carefully using this information as well as all data at our disposal to formulate plans that target areas of greatest need.  Our goal is to improve our scores and this information is only one piece of information we are using.

If you want to see our school report cards, they can be found at the district website, www.guthrie.k12.ok.us .  Rest assured we are taking ownership of our scores and looking forward to showing improvement.

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