August 19, 2015

Education Department Reconsidering Redactions

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The state Department of Education will reconsider a rule they say forced them to redact the graduation rates of nearly 60 percent of the state’s school districts.

The state Board of Education is set to hear a proposal on Aug. 27 that could change an existing rule that requires data with fewer than 10 students be redacted. That meeting will be held in Lawton.

Department spokesman Phil Bacharach said the new rule would allow for more transparency, but added it’s too early to say what the details of that rule may be.

Bacharach said the proposal probably won’t have a big impact on existing data due to the amount of time it would take to update everything already released.

“There could be a number of recent reports that we might be able to revisit and provide a little better data,” Bacharach said, “but it would take a lot of manpower to change everything.”

The proposal comes on the heals of an Oklahoma Watch story where lawmakers criticized the department for misinterpreting a law they wrote to prevent private student data, like social security numbers, from being given to test vendors.

Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, said the department improperly added a rule defining the intentions of the bill to limit the release of data with fewer than 10 students.

Most of the districts with redacted graduation rates were small, rural districts. They also tended to have really high or low graduation rates.