Study Finds A-F Grading System Unreliable

A thorough examination of the A-F grading system has uncovered “serious threats to validity and reliability” and “convoluted” reasoning.

Researchers from University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have reviewed and evaluated the A-F grading system, at the request of Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA) and the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA), and reported some disturbing findings at a Capitol press conference today (January 17, 2013).

The report found flaws in the current system, including:

   -Undocumented and unreliable scores assigned to student proficiency levels.

   -Undocumented scores for improvement in student proficiency.

   -“Erroneous and misleading” school performance indicators.

Curt Adams, senior research scientist at the University of Oklahoma, said the A-F grading system in its current state contained many foundational problems that were not salvageable. He said the formulas and performance indicators used to calculate the grades were “seriously flawed and meaningless for school improvement purposes.”

He also said all stakeholders of public schools would benefit from more collaboration between the legislature and educators.

“Credible assessments are not controversial. If a system is going to work, it has to be trusted by those involved,” Adams said.

The team of research scientists made six recommendations for improving the grading system that included making clear what is being measured and what the limitations of the measurement are; limiting the “high-stakes” consequences of the grades; and consulting experts to build a more credible and reliable system.

You can read the full report developed by OU’s Center for Education Policy and OSU’s Center for Educational Research and Evaluation as well as the press release distributed at the press conference.


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