Political News

Oklahoma releases draft of new education accountability plan

Posted November 22

— The Oklahoma Department of Education is releasing its first draft of a new public schools accountability plan that features less of an emphasis on standardized tests and aims to tackle chronic absenteeism.

The department is developing the plan to comply with the Every Student Succeeds Act. The federal guidelines require states to use a variety of academic measures, English language proficiency and graduation rates to determine school success.

States are required to select a nonacademic indicator as part of their plans, and Oklahoma is looking at chronic absenteeism as its indicator.

The federal law, also known as ESSA, replaced the federal No Child Left Behind law in 2015. ESSA defines chronic absenteeism as missing more than 10 percent of the school year, according to The Oklahoman newspaper (http://bit.ly/2fYZj7l ).

State officials hope that looking at chronic absenteeism rates will help draw attention to underlying issues that causes children and teenagers to miss classes, such as bullying, homelessness and lack of transportation.

"It goes back to that old saying that if you're not in class you can't learn," Fairview Public Schools Superintendent Rocky Burchfield said. "But instead of looking at a school and saying, this is a bad school because of high absenteeism, that school is going to address the issue with the support that student needs."

While Oklahoma schools will continue with the A-through-F grading system, student growth will be taken more into consideration instead of standardized testing serving as the main benchmark.

The draft plan will be presented at a state Board of Education meeting in December. The state hopes to submit its final plan to the U.S. Department of Education in July.

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