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October 26, 2012

SPECIAL REPORT: Grady County schools receive variety of grades

GRADY COUNTY — The Oklahoma State Board of Educations school district grades are in and Amber-Pocasset Independent School District was top of the class in Grady County with all A's.

"I think it speaks for itself," AMPO High School Principal Rob Friesen said. "We are pretty fortunate that we have teachers and kids that do a good job."

But not everyone is happy with their marks.

Superintendent of Friend School, Alton Rawlings, said, the new report card method has its fallacies for sure.

"Last year we were a Reward School for being in the top 10 percent in the entire state. If you don't grow the bottom 25 percent of students scores then you automatically score 17 percent lower, or you start off your grade with a 'B' for us that are two students test scores," he said. "We had two students who scored unsatisfactory two years ago, so in an essence those particular two students’ scores would need to improve 25 percent for us to even have a chance at an 'A'.  It's the first year of this new report card system and I think it will take some time to iron out the wrinkles with the process."

The system uses information gathers in several areas of study, overall student growth, bottom quartile student growth and whole school performance in order to tabulate date on an A-F scale.

Chickasha Independent School District Superintendent Jim Glaze also said some work needs to be done to perfect the system.

"I feel like it needs to be tweaked a bit," he said. "Student attendance is worth 1/3 of the total score in elementary school, about 30 percent in middle school and it's not figured in when it comes to high school. If it is important at the lower levels then it should be just as important at higher levels."

Minco Elementary School, who like Friend Elementary, was honored last year for being in the Top 10 percent also received a "C" score.

Minco Superintendent Kevin Sims said, "We do have some room for improvement in the reading department at our elementary schools but I will agree with Alton Rawlings at Friend that it makes it very tough to raise those scores when your students are already doing so well. I think the growth factor does need to be re-examined."

Sims said he was very proud however that the high school scored a 4.0 and that the middle school scored a "B".

Rush Springs Independent School District Superintendent Mike Zurlina echoed his colleagues notion of improving the system.

"It is simply read, but it's a vert complex formula," he said. "Like all new things, they probably need to do some tweaking."

Despite the varying grades, there was a common consensus among districts that a grading system is a positive thing.

"This shows us specific things we need to work on," Glaze said. "We can get our principals and teachers involved and I hope we can raise the bar that way."

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