In The Know: Analysis shows Oklahoma A-F Grades for schools don’t match school performance

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that an analysis by research at OU and OSU found that Oklahoma’s A-F school grading system doesn’t accurately reflect school performance and masks the performance of poor and minority students. You can read the full report here. The okeducationtruths blog reports that school grades have already be changed twice since they were released yesterday due to mistakes in the formula calculation.

A new OK Policy report outlines action items to boost Oklahoma schools and reduce the achievement gap. Former assistant state superintendent Jack Herron, who claims that superintendent Janet Barresi fired him after taking office, has kicked off a campaign for state superintendent. Congress voted to reopen the government and prevent default on America’s debts; every member of the Oklahoma delegation except Rep. Tom Cole voted to keep the government closed.

The number of abused and neglected children in state custody has jumped by more than 500 kids since July 1, outpacing DHS officials’ ability to find new foster homes and forcing more children into already overcrowded state shelters. A new report estimates that 144,480 low-income Oklahomans will be stuck in a “coverage crater” without access to health care because the state has refused to accept federal dollars for Medicaid.

The Tulsa Initiative Blog explains why the poverty rate by itself can give people the wrong idea about the true state of the war on poverty. David Blatt’s Journal Record column discusses why Oklahoma should not act with a crisis mentality on state pensions. NewsOK writes that lawmakers should not try to reduce the number of students eligible for Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships.

The Number of the Day is the average change in incomes among the bottom 20 percent of Oklahoma households over the last decade. In today’s Policy Note, Tim Fernholz discusses how the government shutdown cost the US economy $24 billion.

In The News

Analysis: Oklahoma A-F Grades for schools don’t match school performance

Oklahoma’s A-F school grading system masks the performance of poor and minority students and, in turn, may violate federal requirements for the state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, according to an analysis by University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University researchers released Tuesday. The authors also claim that the most recent attempt to improve the school grading system by the Oklahoma Legislature failed to address the most serious problems with it and perhaps “intensified” them. “When letter grades were put to the test with actual student achievement data, it turns out that they do more to hide achievement differences than provide a clear understanding of school effectiveness,” researchers wrote.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Read the full report here.

See also: School grades have been changed twice since they were released yesterday from okeducationtruths

Action Items for Oklahoma: Education

Educating our children is Oklahoma’s biggest job. It’s the biggest in terms of dollars and cents, since common and higher education each year receive about half of all state appropriations. It’s also the biggest responsibility that we entrust to our state and local governments. Who we will be as a state and as a people in future decades is being decided right now in our schools. Even so, Oklahoma provides fewer resources to common education compared to other states.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Former assistant superintendent seek’s state superintendent job

Former school administrator and assistant state superintendent Jack Herron has kicked off his campaign for the superintendent of public instruction job held by first-term Republican Janet Barresi. Herron, a Democrat from Norman, launched his campaign Wednesday at the state Capitol. He joins at least three other Democrats and a Republican who have announced plans to seek the education post in 2014.

Read more from NewsOn6.

Congress votes to reopen government; most Oklahoma lawmakers opposed

Most of Oklahoma’s lawmakers voted Wednesday night against the bill to reopen the federal government until Jan. 15 and extend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, was the only Oklahoman to support the legislation. Voting against were Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee; Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa; Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City; Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne; and Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is recovering from heart surgery and missed the vote, though he would have opposed the agreement.

Read more from NewsOK.

Number of Oklahoma children in state custody soars

The number of abused and neglected children in state custody has jumped from 10,233 to 10,729 since July 1, outpacing DHS officials’ ability to find new foster homes and forcing more children into already overcrowded state shelters. The influx of children has placed a strain on state shelters in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Deborah Smith, DHS’ director of child welfare services, told members of a Department of Human Services citizens advisory panel Tuesday. Southeastern Oklahoma has been responsible for the majority of the influx of children in state custody, she said.

Read more from NewsOK.

Almost 150,000 Oklahomans stuck in ‘coverage crater’

A new report released Wednesday by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 144,480 low-income non-elderly adults in Oklahoma will be stuck in a “coverage crater,” ineligible for Medicaid and unable to buy subsidized insurance on the new health-care marketplace. That represents 90 percent of non-elderly adults in the state whose income is at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Oklahoma’s percentage, tied with Florida, is the second highest among the 26 states that are not moving to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to the foundation.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

The poverty rate is just the beginning of the story

Every year, the U.S. Census Bureau issues a report on annual poverty data from the American Community Survey. Last month, the Census Bureau reported the poverty rate for 2012 was 15%, virtually unchanged since 2011. For Oklahoma, the rate was 17.2%, also the same as last year. When the current poverty rate is measured against the historically low rate of 11.1% in 1973, the news seems disheartening. Yet, as Sheldon H. Danziger points out in a recent New York Times opinion piece, comparing 2012 to 1973 without further context can give people the wrong idea about the true state of the war on poverty.

Read more from the Tulsa Initiative Blog.

Prosperity Policy: One crisis solved

Oklahoma’s seven public pension systems have a combined unfunded liability of $11.6 billion. This large number is often used to make the case that the systems are in crisis and require a total overhaul. But this alarming rhetoric obscures the real progress that Oklahoma policymakers have made in recent years to put our public pensions on sound footing. Despite the success of these common-sense fixes, lawmakers have begun discussing a much more radical change.

Read more from the Journal Record.

State is well-served by keeping Oklahoma’s Promise scholarships going strong

Keeping a promise is almost always more difficult than making one. That’s certainly been the case with the Oklahoma’s Promise program, which has provided college scholarships to qualifying students from low- to middle-income families since 1996. Nearly every legislative session brings with it new ideas for “fixing” a program that isn’t really broken. Some of those changes are good — like the successful effort for a dedicated funding source to safeguard Oklahoma’s Promise financial sustainability. Others are less favorable, including attempts (some successful, some not) to reduce the number of eligible students.

Read more from NewsOK.

Quote of the Day

Consistently across the three subject areas (reading, math, and science), minority and poor children tested highest in “D” and “F” schools and lowest in “A” and “B” schools. Put differently, according to the State’s own effectiveness grades, “A” and “B” schools are the least effective for poor and minority children; high scoring, affluent students in those schools produce averages that give the appearance of school effectiveness for all, essentially masking the especially low performance of poor and minority children.

-A report by researchers at OU and OSU showing that Oklahoma’s A-F grades for schools conceal achievement gaps and do not provide meaningful information about school quality (Source:

Number of the Day


Average change in incomes among the bottom 20 percent of Oklahoma households over the last decade.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

This fiscal fight cost the US economy $24 billion—but that’s just the beginning

Two weeks of drama in Washington haven’t moved the policy needle, but the government shutdown and fears of a debt default have their own costs. Standard & Poors released an analysis forecasting the cost at $24 billion, or 0.6% of annualized fourth quarter growth. That means rather than a growth rate of close to 3%, we can expect closer to 2%, thanks to the interruption in spending by the government and by furloughed government employees and contractors, as well as businesses that have to hold up operations absent government efforts.

Read more from Quartz.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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