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State Actions- Turning Reform Into Reality

• Kristin Lock

State leaders across the nation continue to make improving the quality of education a priority. Below is a summary of state actions that occurred during the past two weeks to advance reform.


The Indiana Department of Education released A-F school grades this week for the 2011-2012 school year. The A-F school grading system was first implemented last year by the State Board of Education, and this year the Board introduced new grading metrics that capture even more information about student learning. We applaud the Hoosier State for its continued commitment to meaningful education reform. By providing a thoughtful and transparent accountability system through A-F school grades, Indiana has taken an important step to raise expectations while helping struggling students.


The Oklahoma Department of Education released its first A-F school grades after thorough consideration and review of the grading metrics by the State Board of Education. We applaud the state for releasing grades based on a formula that rewards both student achievement and efforts to help struggling students.The grades earned by schools take into account factors that truly make a difference in the classroom, including student growth, student proficiency and school performance.


Last week, the Foundation partnered with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and Mississippi Center for Public Policy (MCPP) to host a School Choice Fact-Finding Mission for Mississippi law and policy makers. In attendance was a combination of a group of 30 bipartisan legislators and staff.During the event, participants heard about Florida’s experience with school choice from Patricia Levesque and other pioneers of these policies in the Sunshine State. The Foundation applauds Mississippi leaders for their dedication to come together and seek out solutions that will result in educational gains for Mississippi’s children.

The Foundation has also had the privilege of continuing to work with the Mississippi Department of Education’s Accountability Task Force in their task of establishing a framework for the new A-F school grading formula the state will implement at the conclusion of the 2012-2013 school year. The Task Force’s recommendations, which were approved last week, include adopting a single school grading formula that complies with both state and federal accountability requirements, incorporating individual student growth and four-year graduation rates into the formula, and automatically raising the bar for performance as student and school proficiency levels improve statewide. The Foundation congratulates Interim Superintendent Dr. Lynn House and Accountability Task Force members for their bold leadership to advance quality, student learning-driven accountability in the state’s assessment of public schools.


Last week, Digital Learning Now!’s Dave Myslinski had the opportunity to address Kentucky’s Student Access to Technology Task Force, along with representatives from Amplify and Florida Virtual School. The task force, created by the Kentucky legislature in 2012, is developing recommendations for the 2013 legislative session that would expand digital learning for all Kentucky students. The Foundation congratulates Kentucky for its commitment to creating a 21st century public education system through the expansion of digital learning in the Bluegrass State.


Last week, the Louisiana Department of Education released the state’s second round of A-F school and district grades – providing a clear and transparent accountability system easy to understand by teachers, parents and students alike. Schools statewide showed a marked improvement over the past year with the number of schools earning an A or B increasing and the number of schools earning a D or F decreasing. Additionally,in recognition of the importance of raising expectations, this year Louisiana raised the threshold schools must achieve to avoid earning an F. Louisiana’s multi-year education reform plan is paying off. Student learning is increasing, and Louisiana students are better off today than they were just one year ago. The Foundation applauds Governor Jindal, Superintendent White, the State’s Board of Education and lawmakers for standing firm in their commitment to shine an honest light on how schools are doing; and, in doing so, celebrating the successes of high performing schools while providing support to those that are struggling. The gains in the 2012 school grades are proof that given the opportunity students and teachers will rise to meet the challenge of high expectations.

About the author

Kristin Lock