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November 17, 2012

Concern continues over criteria for state report cards

STILLWATER, Okla. — An information item on the Stillwater Board of Education regular meeting agenda Tuesday night was the topic of some lively discussion.

The item: A-F School Report Cards.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education issued the controversial school grade evaluations recently. Stillwater Public Schools did well, earning two A’s and the rest B’s.

But how those grades were compiled has left many school administrators and board members scratching their heads.

“This is nuts,” board member Kevin Clark said.

Clark referenced a recent civic club presentation about the evaluation system by Stillwater Superintendent Ann Caine, who gave examples of three schools in the state that had several D’s and F’s on their report cards and still earned a perfect score of 4.0. Clark said that is because some individual scores on the report card are more heavily weighted than others.

Stillwater High School was given an overall grade of 3.67, falling only percentage points below a 3.75, which is an A.

Stillwater received A’s in student achievement, overall student growth and bottom quartile student growth. What brought Stillwater’s score down was an 87 percent in graduation rate and a 63 percent in advanced coursework participation.

The board heard from Becky Szlichta, the director of secondary education for Stillwater Public Schools. Szlichta detailed the grade report for each school in the Stillwater district, and explained the state’s reasoning on how those grades were determined.

Caine said the state is tweaking the school grade report evaluation criteria.

Szlichta said Stillwater school administrators are dissecting grade reports on their schools and determining how to interpret the data.

• Clark said redistricting policy meetings will begin early in 2013.

At the Oct. 9 board meeting, board president Mike Dicks said he was concerned about the process used to develop the new school boundaries for Stillwater’s six elementary schools. He said the district needs to use the same criteria each time redistricting is necessary. Clark said it was important to have a well-defined process. Even though not everyone agreed with the selection of Model No. 13 as the final plan, Clark said it was the most widely accepted map.

• The board approved a school board election resolution Feb. 12 for Ward 3, which is the seat held by vice president Debra Vincent, whose term expires in 2013. Candidates for the seat must file between Dec. 3-5 at the Payne County Election Board.

• Architect Bob Schaefer reported cost estimates will be completed by Dec. 19 on the Pioneer Sports Complex at Cimarron Plaza.

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