Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bills ending social promotion and creating report card for schools head to Governor Fallin

Two key education reforms are just one step away from becoming law. Senate Bill 346, which received final Senate approval on Monday, would end social promotion. The House gave final approval to House Bill 1456, which would create a report card for public schools. Sen. Clark Jolley is principal Senate author of both measures.
“It comes down to the simple question of whether we want Oklahoma’s children to succeed. The current system has allowed far too many students to slip through the cracks,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “Unless we want to keep repeating the same mistakes, it is time to try a new approach.”
SB 346 would target children unable to read at grade level.
“This is about doing everything we can to make sure the child is prepared to learn by being able to read. As a last resort, they will be retained in order to get the extra time and help they need to master that fundamental skill,” Jolley said.
HB 1456 would create a grading system for schools, rating them with letter grades so that parents and patrons can easily see how their local schools are performing.
“I want to thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for supporting these important reforms,” Jolley said. “It means more children will be able to succeed in school, in college and in life—and that means a better future for our entire state.”
SB 346 and HB 1456 now await Gov. Mary Fallin’s approval.
Senate amendments to House Bill 1456 removes language that would have allowed a school district receiving a grade of A or that improved at least two grade levels to have greater authority over the allocation of the total budget of the school and would have required districts to adopt site-based budgeting for all schools. The amendments require that the grades of schools be based 33 percent upon test scores, 17 percent learning gains in reading and mathematics, 17 percent on improvement of the lowest 25th percentile of students in the school in reading and mathematics on criterion-referenced tests and end-of-instruction tests and 33 percent on whole school improvement. For middle school grades and elementary school grades, total school improvement will be based upon the drop-out rate, the percentage of students taking higher level coursework at a satisfactory or higher level and any other factors selected by the superintendent of public instruction.

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