OKLAHOMA CITY – On Sunday, the Tulsa World reported that Governor Mary Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz criticized a report issued by professors from OU and OSU that attacked the substance of the A-F public school grading system. The World reports:
Weintz said the governor is "dismayed" to see groups representing the education community touting a report issued by researchers at University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University as a way to wage a campaign against A-F.
Weintz cited a portion of the report that he said indicates the authors believe that schools are only responsible for 20 to 30 percent of student achievement. In that portion, the authors question whether school performance should be based solely on student standardized test results.
Weintz said Fallin believes test scores are an adequate way to measure student performance and she does not support the findings in the report.
"The governor believes that increased resources — if allocated appropriately — can help improve the quality of schools and improve student performance," he said. "She is an advocate, if we have extra funds, of trying to funnel those into education.
"It is crippling her ability to make that case to the public and to other lawmakers if the education community itself is touting a report which in essence says schools can have very little effect on student performance."
Some have misconstrued Weintz’s comments as a "threat" to educators to halt criticism of the A-F grading system.
Fallin's Communications Director, Alex Weintz, responded today, arguing that nothing could be further from the truth.
"Governor Fallin, school superintendents and teachers are all on the same side: the side that argues that public education is important, that it can make a difference in the lives of our children, and that additional funding can improve our schools," Weintz said. "That's why she signed a budget this year that appropriates $90 million of new money for K-12 education.
"Unfortunately, the OU/OSU report being touted by some superintendents sends a different message to the public. The authors write: '...multiple examinations of the sources of variation in student test performance reveal that more than 70 percent is due to non-school causes. Of course, schools do affect test results, but the effect size is routinely found to be between 20 and 30 percent.'
"In other words, the report argues schools can't substantially effect student performance or test scores," said Weintz. "Rather, 'non-school' factors like poverty control student outcomes.
"The governor finds this conclusion to be alarming for a number of reasons. It sends a message to teachers that what they do doesn't matter. It sends the same message to parents and students: schools can't help you if you are poor or face other challenging circumstances. And it broadcasts to the general public that K-12 education is not worth investing in if it cannot make significant improvements to student performance.
"Governor Fallin rejects that argument. She believes that all children have the ability to learn given the opportunity. Great schools and teachers can successfully boost student performance and help even our least-advantaged children improve. Oklahoma has many examples of schools and students that perform extremely well despite challenging circumstances.
"Governor Fallin has not and will not threaten funding for schools based on opposition to the A-F grading system. She is asking that groups representing superintendents reconsider their endorsement of a report that argues that education cannot make a significant impact in student performance. That argument undermines the advocates of public education who believe it is worth investing in and improving, including our teachers and superintendents.
"Governor Fallin continues to ask educators, lawmakers and parents to work together to make sure the A-F grading system succeeds as a tool to improve education and help our kids."