In testing results, more bad news for Oklahoma public education
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Published: 01-Sep-2013

Oklahoma’s fifth and eighth grade students trended lower in science and writing tests last year, with fewer students scoring proficient or advanced than in previous years, when a now-abandoned test was used.

The results flow from more rigorous tests in both subject areas, state officials sayAn overview of education testing for grades Kindergarten through 12th grade in Oklahoma public schools conveys a broadly negative, albeit preliminary, picture.

While that is pretty much exactly what state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi predicted over recent months, the glum picture triggered an “all-hands-on-deck” press conference at the state Capitol.

Actual scores and detailed analyses are about a month away.  That gap comes from a 30-day time period that began August 28, during which local school district officials will review and comment on results. The analyses are not expected to change the overall picture, which state officials described as distressing, even if anticipated. 

For all middle school grades (sixth through eighth), reading scores are trending down, while math results are mixed.  In younger grades (third through fifth), reading scores edged up, and math scores stayed flat. 

As for end-of-instruction tests for graduating seniors, scores trended up in most subject areas, but were down in Biology and Geometry. Broadly, that result seemed to echo marginal improvements in the Sooner State’s performance on the ACT, a widely-used assessment for college preparation.  

The new testing structure for Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS) flows from Senate Bill 2033, enacted in 2010. That legislation mandated college and career-ready standards. State education officials this year are in the final stages of a drive to align classroom instruction to the new OAS structure. 

Schools Superintendent Barresi released the results on behalf of the state Department of Education. Joining her to pledge intensified efforts to improve performance were Robert Sommers, who became director of the Career-Technology system this spring, and is now Gov. Mary Fallin’s Cabinet Secretary for Education.

Also standing with Barresi were Glen Johnson, Higher Education Chancellor, Shawnee businessman and State Chamber of Commerce Chairman-elect Chuck Mills, and former state Rep. Fred Morgan, now president of the State Chamber. A common theme of the Capitol press conference was that the new testing regime is a more accurate reflection of challenges facing Oklahoma students, and that from that clearer picture can come more disciplined instructional programs.

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