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Oklahoma public schools show continued academic struggle in state report cards

Kenny Eliason

The Oklahoma State Report Card, released Wednesday, grades the success of every school in the state, as well as the overall performance of the public education system.

Only 27% of students scored at grade level in state reading, math and science tests this spring. Another 36% scored at a basic level, indicating partial mastery of these subjects, and 37% scored below basic.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education calculates the comprehensive report each year. The agency reported mostly minute differences from the year before in the results of spring state tests, which students take annually in third through eighth grade and 11th grade.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who is in his first year in office, said the results are stagnant and “simply unacceptable.”

“The Oklahoma Legislature is investing record amounts to address education in our state, but for too long, our schools have focused on social experimentation rather than educational outcomes,” Walters said in a statement. “My message to the people of Oklahoma is clear: we are righting this ship, and we will make Oklahoma a leader in education again.”

The report cards are based on six primary indicators of school performance: academic achievement, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, postsecondary opportunities, graduation rates and progress of students learning English as a second language.

Scores on spring state tests determine the grade for academic achievement and make up the largest share of a school’s overall evaluation. Oklahoma received a C grade in this category.

Academic growth accounts for how much students’ test scores improved over the previous year. The state Department of Education gave a C overall for growth in 2022-23, a letter grade lower than the previous year.

The state received a B for improvement of English language learners, who take an annual test to track their language proficiency.

The lowest statewide grade was an F for chronic absenteeism, with about 20% of Oklahoma students in poor attendance.

This grade accounts for the number of students who miss 10% or more of the school year. Some criticize this indicator as one that is outside of schools’ control.

Oklahoma high schools were graded at a C for the number of postsecondary courses and experiences they make available to students, with the intention of better preparing them for college or a career.

The state earned a D for its high school graduation rate. Only 80% of the latest high school cohort graduated in four years while 82% did so in five years and 85% took six years.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Copyright 2023 KOSU. To see more, visit KOSU.

Nuria Martinez-Keel of Oklahoma Voice