Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Not just a river in Egypt

Oklahoma's latest A-F report cards are out, and many in the public-education community are up in arms. Not about the disappointing results, mind you, but about the report cards themselves. But as The Oklahoman notes in an excellent editorial, at this point denial just looks silly.
Here’s the problem for critics of A-F school grading: Numerous independent measurements also suggest Oklahoma is failing many students.

Just 22 percent of Oklahoma graduating seniors in 2014 demonstrated college and career readiness in all four core subjects on the ACT college entrance exam — English, reading, science and math — according to ACT's 2014 Condition of College and Career Readiness report. And roughly one-fourth of seniors didn’t take the ACT.

A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report gave Oklahoma failing grades for academic achievement, academic achievement by low-income and minority students, and international competitiveness. Oklahoma also got D’s for post-secondary and workforce readiness, parental options and data quality.

The “Quality Counts” report from Education Week found just 13.6 out of every 100 Oklahoma students taking advanced placement tests achieve a high score. That’s about half the national average.

The percentage of Oklahoma students rated “proficient” or better on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests for reading and math in the fourth and eighth grades is below the national average, in some cases substantially lower. Students in neighboring Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri outperform Oklahoma students in NAEP math and reading proficiency. And a much larger share of students in Arkansas and Texas achieved high AP scores.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 39 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates who attend college take at least one remedial course (meaning they have to retake high school classes).

Those wishing to serve in the military must achieve a minimum score on the ASVAB test to enlist. A 2010 Education Trust report, which examined ASVAB results from 2004 to 2009, found that 23.2 percent of Oklahoma high school graduates (including 39.5 percent of black students) failed. 
Other measurements could be cited — when stacked up internationally, for example, Oklahoma's schools are even worse than you think , as Greg Forster points out in Perspective — but the point is made. The monopoly schools have a long way to go. And as The Oklahoman notes, "Denial is a poor battle plan for school improvement."

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