State of Oklahoma
House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2012
Rep. Brian Renegar
State Capitol Building Rm. 504
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Contact: Valorie Owens
Renegar Questions Fairness of Education Evaluation Standards
OKLAHOMA CITY (August 31, 2012) One state lawmaker, disturbed by the way the word “fair” is being distorted by high-ranking education officials, has decided to file legislation to implement fairness in an evaluation method that he says is clearly lacking in fairness.
Representative Brian Renegar plans to address new rules adopted by the State Department of Education that will grade school districts on the performance of students who take online courses or attend virtual schools.
“I find it unfair that we will soon be grading school districts on factors outside of their control,” said Rep. Renegar, D-McAlester. “How is it fair to grade a brick and mortar public school according to how well a virtual student performs?”
Rep. Renegar contends that a more appropriate body to hold accountable for the performance of virtual students would be the Department of Education.
“As the Department of Education is incredibly supportive of virtual schools that don’t even exist yet, to the point of raiding money from very real public schools and students, my legislation will hold it accountable for the academic successes or failures of virtual courses and schools. If virtual students underperform on any areas, the Education Department would be accountable.”
He noted that, according to the State Department of Education, in the years of 2009-2011 there has been a reduction of 1,533 full-time education employees while student enrollment has increased by an estimated 20,000 students. While public schools have endured cuts in funding despite increased enrollment, the Education Dept. this year set aside funding for virtual schools based on an assumption of maximum student enrollment.
“In addition, the Education Department thinks it’s appropriate to grade schools based on student attendance, so likewise, it will be graded on this criteria as it applies to the participation and completion rate of virtual students,” said Rep. Renegar. “As a reminder, the Education Department adopted standards in which it takes a 93.7% or higher to score an “A” grade.”
During a House Education meeting this past session, a representative of the Education Department said, point blank, that when the Department was crafting the rules for the A-F grading system, the calculations resulted in too many schools receiving a grade of “A” when the corresponding score was set at 90%. Therefore, an “A” grade must be 93.7% or higher.
“Why would the Education Department intentionally develop a formula in order to decrease the chances of schools receiving an ‘A’ grade? Is the Department’s goal to make our public schools appear to be under-performing? If so, why?”
“Honestly, I am fed up with the loose use of the word “fair” when it comes to how our public schools are funded. I am frustrated with how the Education Department is prioritizing funding for charter and virtual schools over our public schools. I am upset with school districts being forced to ask their patrons to approve bond issues or to ask for donations because the Department is placing our taxpayer dollars in the hands of private and for-profit virtual schools.”
“Right now the education evaluation standards in place for schools is anything but fair.”
Two weeks following the General Election in November, legislators will be authorized to prefile bills and resolutions for introduction.
The House of Representatives will convene for the First Regular Session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature on Tuesday, January 8, 2013.