Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include the following information.
A look at report cards shows schools in Rogers County are, well, average.
School report cards for the 2018-19 school year were released last week, showing overall improvement across the state.
But the grades also showed where more improvement was needed.
In a letter to school administrators, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said, “No school report card can tell the full story of a school any more than a student report card can reveal everything important about a child. But Oklahoma’s new system, built on a continuous improvement model, is designed to measure what matters.”
The report cards assign several letter grades to schools based on weighted indicators.
Letter grades are assigned on a bell curve, so that everyone scoring close to the state average receives a C, with As and Fs awarded to extreme outliers.
For elementary and middle schools, the metrics are academic achievement, English language proficiency progress for English learners, academic growth and chronic absenteeism.
In Rogers County, the high achievers in these categories were Roosa, Westside and Justus-Tiawah elementary schools.
Roosa earned an A overall and an A in academic growth, with students showing 90 percent improvement in English and math assessments over previous years.
Roosa also earned an A in English language proficiency progress, with 64 percent of English learners on track to finish their language acquisition program on time compared to 30 percent state-wide and 44 percent across the Claremore Public Schools District.
High schools are measured by academic achievement, English language proficiency progress for English learners, chronic absenteeism, graduation and postsecondary opportunities.
The highest letter grade earned by any Rogers County high school was a C, shared by Catoosa, Claremore, Oologah-Talala.
Inola and Chelsea had a D grade, while Foyil received an F.
While earning a B in graduation, a C in chronic absenteeism and a C in postsecondary opportunities, Inola High School’s D in academic achievement, how prepared students are for the next grade or course based on performance in state tests, brought their overall score down.
Inola Superintendent Kent Holbrook said the grades are helpful, but they would be more so if the state was more transparent with what numbers they are using and how they arrive at their results.
“I think people are smart enough to understand numbers just as well as they understand grades,” Holbrook said. “If the average score was 50, anybody scoring around 50 did really good, anybody higher did great, anybody lower is struggling. But, when you start putting letters on it, that changes everything.”
“This is based on a bell curve, meaning you can have a few As and a few Fs, all the rest of us are going to be in the middle somewhere,” Holbrook said. “In that scenario, a C is a good, average, strong grade. But you and I, when we went to school, if we got a C, we would be disappointed.”
Holbrook also said that the district’s chronic absenteeism and number of discipline issues have decreased dramatically since the school switched to 4-day weeks.
“Absenteeism is a critical piece to school success,” Holbrook said. “If a child is not there, they’re not learning.”
Confusion about how the scores are configured also played a part at Foyil High School, where the school received a D in graduation for the 2018-19 school year, when they managed to graduate 102 percent of their senior class.
Foyil Superintendent Rod Carter and High School Principal Lance Williams addressed multiple aspects of the districts’ D and F scores and the solutions already in place to resolve them.
“We want every kid to graduate,” Carter said, which is why the district has implemented alternative school and a Wednesday tutoring program.
Foyil received a D in academic achievement and an F in chronic absenteeism with 76.5 percent of students in good attendance, compared to the state average of 86 percent.
“We have been working on that for a couple of years, and it is getting better,” Carter said.
Williams, who joined Foyil about 5 years ago, said, “The number one thing is a culture change to build that environment where students want to come to school and be in school.”
Both administrators credited the janitorial staff for improvements in absenteeism, because their efforts to keep the school sanitized and clean has helped slow the spread of disease.
Addressing academic achievement, Williams highlighted that two years ago Foyil celebrated two Academic All-State students in a class of 35.
“Obviously we need to get better,” Carter said. “This is one tool in evaluating the school, there are many more factors that go into it, and I think our parents realize that.”
Both administrators also credited Foyil parents and guardians for being closely involved with the school and in their childrens’ lives, which will ultimately improve the district’s overall scores.
“We still have challenges and are not yet where we want to be,” said State Superintendent Hofmeister. “The good news is we are on the right track. Individual students are making progress, although too many are not yet college or career ready. In any system built on continuous improvement, however, individual student growth is the first sign of success moving forward. These gains indicate we are laying the foundation for future gains at the school, district and state level.”
More information about these grades and about each school, including demographic breakdowns on each indicator, can be found in an interactive format at oklaschools.com.