While Oklahoma’s 2018-19 School Report Card shows an increase in academic growth for elementary and middle school students, challenges remain in fully lifting the state’s preK-12 education. The State Board of Education today approved the annual accountability report.

Overall, academic growth was up for students in third through eighth grades. The rate of math growth was an improvement over 2018, while growth in English language arts (ELA) was down slightly year over year.

“We still have challenges and are not yet where we want to be,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy 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.”

Required by federal and state law, the report cards assign several letter grades to schools based on weighted indicators. For elementary and middle schools, the metrics are academic achievement, English language proficiency progress for English learners, academic growth and chronic absenteeism. High schools are measured by academic achievement, English language proficiency progress for English learners, chronic absenteeism, graduation and postsecondary opportunities.

The 2018-19 Oklahoma School Report Card includes the following bright spots:

95 elementary schools improved one letter grade or more in the overall grade, largely due to increases in academic growth.

95 middle schools increased one letter grade or more in the overall grade.

5 high schools improved two overall letter grades due to gains in points for graduation and postsecondary opportunities.

44 high schools increased one overall letter grade.

For high schools, the report card shows a 0.7% increase in the four-year graduation rate – from 82.9% to 83.6% – as well as gains in postsecondary opportunities. In particular, internships, which are measured under the Postsecondary Opportunities indicator, are up 400% over last year.

“This tremendous jump in internships confirms the effectiveness of Oklahoma’s emphasis on college and career readiness,” Hofmeister said.

She noted that this year marks the statewide implementation of Individual Career Academic Planning (ICAP) as a graduation requirement, beginning with current 2019-20 ninth graders.

But the report cards also indicate that big challenges remain. Academic achievement declined in all tested grades. That drop was most pronounced in high schools, which do not have a mechanism to show academic growth.

Hofmeister said the decline is concerning and worthy of focus.

“As we celebrate individual student growth, we must focus on meeting students where they are and preparing them for the next grade, course or level so that they are successful in life after high school. If we do not make meaningful changes in our instructional practices, we will not see meaningful change in our academic performance,” said Hofmeister.

“If districts have done nothing different than what they’ve always done, they likely saw a drop in their overall letter grade.”

The achievement metric is based on targets that increase toward grade-level expectations (i.e., proficiency). The system is designed to recognize that different groups of students start at different places. Those groups include students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students, English learners and racial/ethnic groups. While different priority student groups have different expected rates of improvement, all student groups are expected to meet grade-level expectations.

The 2018-19 Oklahoma School Report Card is housed at oklaschools.com and features a user-friendly, interactive dashboard that provides a snapshot of multiple aspects of school and student performance. The website, which has drawn more than 1.5 million views, is searchable by school, district address or county.

New contextual information for schools was added to the dashboard this year, and more will come in the next few months. It includes:

Assessment Performance (under ‘About Our School’)

Participation (under ‘About Our School’)

Additional Groups for Academic Achievement (under ‘About Our School’)

Per-Pupil Expenditure (under ‘School Climate’)

Discipline & Attendance (under ‘School Climate’)

Parent Portal (under ‘Your Student’)