A Sustainable Approach to High School Accountability in Oklahoma

Every educator and school leader wants to do right by their students, which means constantly seeking improvement. But to make positive changes, school leaders first need data on what’s working and what isn’t. That’s why the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires all states to administer school accountability programs that utilize standardized testing and rate individual schools and districts on student outcomes. 

While standardized assessments are an incomplete measure of learning, they offer valuable data on how students and schools are progressing in different subject areas, as well as insights into groups of students who may be falling behind. 

In Oklahoma, state law requires all public schools to administer a series of standardized assessments to provide accountability data — but the state has struggled to make meaningful progress toward its long-term improvement goals. Slipping test scores and a serious teacher shortage point to the need for comprehensive, cost-effective solutions that districts can roll out quickly to turn the tide.

Required Assessments in Oklahoma

All Oklahoma students are required to take the College- and Career-Readiness Assessment (CCRA) in Grade 11 to measure their attainment in English Language Arts, math, science, and U.S. history. 

The CCRA is divided into two parts:

Part 1: Each district administers either the SAT or the ACT, including the writing section, to all students.

Part 2: Each district administers two state-created assessments: science (aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for Science) and U.S. history (aligned to the Oklahoma Academic Standards for U.S. History). 

Students receive one of four performance-level ratings for each subject. These ratings are derived from state-assigned cut scores for the ACT/SAT portions of the CCRA. Possible performance ratings are: 

  • Below Basic: The student has not performed at the Basic level.
  • Basic: The student demonstrates partial mastery of essential knowledge and skills but is not on track for college/career. 
  • Proficient: The student demonstrates mastery of grade-level subject matter, is ready for the next grade or course, and is on track to be ready for college/career.
  • Advanced: The student demonstrates superior performance on challenging subject matter. 

CCRA scores are required by law to appear on Oklahoma high school graduates’ transcripts. In addition to ACT/SAT scale scores for reading and mathematics, schools can choose to include composite ACT or SAT scores. If they do so, they must use the student’s highest composite score. 

Calculating School Accountability Ratings in Oklahoma

Oklahoma high school accountability scores are calculated using a formula the state submitted to the federal Department of Education in compliance with ESSA. Notably, this formula was updated in 2022, and not all state websites have been updated to reflect those changes. 

This formula is based on five indicators, each of which carries a specific number of potential points:


1. Academic achievement (45 total possible points):

The academic achievement indicator is broken out across three subjects—ELA, math, and science—and two dimensions, Performance Level Snapshot and Priority Student Group

Improvement Toward Expectations (ITEs). This indicator is based entirely on CCRA scores. 

Schools can earn up to 15 points in each subject, divided equally between the two dimensions. That means each school receives a score for Performance Level Snapshot and Priority Student Group ITEs for ELA, math, and science. 

The Performance Level Snapshot dimension is a straightforward calculation in which each student is awarded points based on their CCRA score level and the total points earned are divided by the number of full-time students. Basic scores are worth 0.5 points, proficient 1 point, and advanced 1.25 points. Below basic scores are not worth any points. 

The Priority Student Group ITEs dimension tracks designated student groups’ progress within the context of predetermined targets. While students may fall within more than one group, they are only counted in one group (using the following priority order) for accountability scoring.


  • Students with disabilities

  • Economically disadvantaged students

  • English learners

  • Black/African American students

  • Hispanic/Latino students

  • Native American/American Indian students

  • Asian/Pacific Islander students

  • Students identifying two or more races

  • White students

Within this dimension, points are awarded based on students’ progress toward targets as well as proficiency. For each student who meets their scale score target but is not yet proficient, the school receives 0.95 points, and for each proficient student, it earns 1.0 points. Schools do not receive any points for students who score below the scale score target. The total points earned are calculated using an index that takes into account the number of students in each priority group. 

2. English language proficiency status (10 points):

The English language proficiency status indicator tracks whether students have met or exceeded expected growth toward proficiency to stay on track for an “on-time program exit”— meaning that they will achieve proficiency within a specific time frame. (The time frame allotted to each student depends on their level of proficiency when they enter the school). Progress is measured using scores from a standardized language proficiency assessment.   

Points for this indicator are calculated by dividing the number of students who have met or exceeded growth targets by the total number of students within the English language learner program. 

3. Graduation rate (10 possible points):

Oklahoma’s graduation rate status indicator tracks the percentage of students who graduate in four-, five-, and six-year timeframes and is linked to Oklahoma’s long-term goal of becoming one of the top 10 states by graduation rate. 

The 10 points available for this indicator are divided across three numbers:

  • The percentage of students who graduate within four years (5 points)
  • The percentage of students who graduate within five years (3 points)
  • The percentage of students who graduate within six years (2 points)

To calculate how many points the school receives, the state multiplies the relevant graduation rate by the points available in each category. Schools also report graduation scores disaggregated by priority group, though only the overall figures are used to calculate points. 

4. Chronic absenteeism (10 points):

Oklahoma defines chronic absenteeism as missing more than 10% of school days (18 out of 180 days). To calculate the points a school receives for the chronic absenteeism indicator, the state divides the number of students who miss more than 18 days by the total number of full-time enrolled students, then multiplies the resulting percentage by 10. 

Like with graduation scores, schools also report chronic absenteeism rates by priority group, though those are not factored into the points calculation for this indicator. 

5. Postsecondary opportunities (10 points):

The postsecondary opportunities indicator measures the percentage of students who have achieved at least one item on a list of qualifications for college or career by the time they graduate high school. These include:

  • Advanced Placement (AP) classes
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) program
  • Dual (concurrent) enrollment in postsecondary courses (e.g., at a community college)
  • An approved, work-based internship or apprenticeship
  • A program leading to industry certification

To calculate points earned, the school divides the number of graduating students who have attained one of these qualifications by the total number of graduating students then multiplies that percentage by 10. 

Schools also report the percentages of each priority group that demonstrates postsecondary readiness to the state. 

Conversion to letter grades

Schools receive a letter grade for each indicator based on the number of points they receive. They also receive an overall letter grade, which is calculated by tallying all of the points they receive and dividing that number by the total points available. 

Oklahoma uses a norm-referenced model to convert numerical scores to letter grades, meaning that a school’s grade is determined by where it falls relative to other schools in the state rather than the raw score itself. 

  • A = At or above the 95th percentile
  • B = 70th to 95th percentiles
  • C = 30th to 70th percentiles
  • D = 5th to 30th percentiles
  • F = Below the 5th percentile

The overall and indicator letter grades are publicly available on the state’s school report card website. Report cards also include additional data points like per-pupil expenditures, educator qualifications, and National Assessment of Educational Programs (NAEP) and Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) data. Finally, report cards include state recognitions for excellence for schools that have received awards in academic and extracurricular areas ranging from STEM to fine arts.

Current State of the School Accountability System in Oklahoma

While Oklahoma set ambitious goals for its state education system in its ESSA plan — including having more than half of students score proficient on assessments — it still has significant ground to cover to meet them. In 2023, the state’s overall high school grade was a C. Chronic absenteeism, high school graduation, and postsecondary opportunities were particularly weak areas for the state.

In 2023, the average composite ACT score for Oklahoma students dropped to 17.8, the lowest in twenty years, and only 10% of Oklahoma students meet college readiness benchmarks across all ACT subtests. The national composite average in 2023 was 19.5. Oklahoma students who took the SAT received a mean score of 930, compared to the national mean of 1028.

According to state-released data, 38% of Oklahoma students scored proficient or advanced on the ELA CCRA assessment, while 19% scored proficient or advanced in math (math and ELA scores are derived from the SAT or ACT, depending on which the district administers). On the state-administered CCRA tests, 41% of Oklahoma high school students scored proficient or advanced in U.S. history, while 21% achieved that standard in science.

Dissatisfaction with educational outcomes in Oklahoma is widespread. While 92% of Oklahoma students attend public schools, just 17% of surveyed parents said they would keep their children in the public school system if given the choice. 

What Are the Impacts of School Ratings in Oklahoma?

Since Oklahoma’s school grades (as well as detailed breakdowns of performance on each indicator), are publicly available, they can impact families’ decisions about where to live and where to enroll their children. 

In compliance with ESSA, Oklahoma identifies the state’s lowest-performing schools for additional monitoring and intervention annually. While the categories are set at the federal level, each state sets its own standards for identifying schools in each category. Oklahoma uses the following standards:

  • Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI): High schools in which one or more student groups (e.g., racial or ethnic groups, low-income students, or English language learners) have scored at or below the bottom 10% of that group in the state for three subsequent years.

  • Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI): Schools that meet the criteria for TSI and that have at least one student group that would, if considered on its own, meet the criteria for CSI (below). 

  • Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI):  High schools that receive a score of F, and/or schools that have a three-year average graduation rate of 67% or lower. 

Schools that fall into these categories will receive additional support and monitoring for the state and may be subject to additional outside interventions and reporting requirements. 

While the Oklahoma Department of Education has stated its intention to reward schools for exceptionally high performance (and has done so in the past under a pre-ESSA school accountability model), a new system does not yet appear to have been implemented.

Solutions for Improving School Accountability Ratings in Oklahoma

To raise their school accountability grades, Oklahoma high schools need to help their students achieve higher scores on the CCRA — and to do so, they need to offer students focused practice of both core curricular concepts and test-taking skills. 

However, in the context of a severe teacher shortage, Oklahoma teachers lack the bandwidth and resources to spend time creating and delivering test prep materials. That’s where MasteryPrep comes in. 

Every year, MasteryPrep partners with over 2,000 school districts nationwide to help students achieve higher scores on standardized tests, including the ACT and SAT.

MasteryPrep’s solutions don’t require any teacher lesson planning or preparation — everything educators need is included. Districts can leverage solutions including diagnostic testing that fuels study plans at the student level, curriculum to deliver in-class, digital SnapCourse video content, and one-day boot camps. Students enter their test day confident in their knowledge and prepared to take on tough questions strategically. 

Reach out to learn more about MasteryPrep’s ACT and SAT programs, as well as Oklahoma-specific solutions.

About MasteryPrep:

MasteryPrep provides mastery-based college readiness services and resources for the SAT®, ACT®, TSIA2, EOC, and WorkKeys®. MasteryPrep is the nationally preferred SAT and ACT prep provider of the Council for Opportunity in Education and licensed by ACT to include official ACT test questions in its programs. MasteryPrep partners with schools and districts to help level the standardized assessment playing field. MasteryPrep has ranked among the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Companies” for six years and is a featured “Entrepreneur 360” company.


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