A PASSing grade: Restored Oklahoma academic standards certified as ‘college-ready’

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have certified the existing PASS standards as college- and career-ready curriculum standards.  The certification is an affirmation that Oklahomans graduating from high school have covered subject matter preparing them both for college and career-relevant skills.

“The certification is also significant because the U.S. Department of Education uses ‘college and career ready’ certification as a qualifier for states to apply for a waiver to the federal No Child Left Behind education law, ” Gov. Mary Fallin’s office explained in a statement.

The certification could put the state in compliance with federal No Child Left Behind standards. The Obama administration has rejected a waiver request from Oklahoma earlier this year, shortly after U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan criticized the state Legislature for repealing the controversial Common Core curriculum standards. That rejection meant the state lost direct control over $30 million in federal funds flowing through the No Child Left Behind provisions.

Fallin said she will work with federal officials to revisit the PASS standards: “The federal government needs to act quickly to ensure our schools do not lose the use of any federal funds.”

State Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, had criticized state officials for not moving quickly to certify PASS standards – pre-existing standards reinstituted while awaiting development of new standards to replace Common Core. “I’m very disappointed in the political games which have been played with Oklahoma’s children and our education system. Their inaction is a result of Fallin and (Schools Superintendent Janet) Barresi pandering to Washington bureaucrats,” said Dorman in a Thursday statement.

Dorman, the Democratic nominee for governor this year, opposed the Common Core standards when they were first approved for Oklahoma in 2010. Rep.Dorman joined the majority of legislators in rejecting them this year.

After initially supporting Common Core, Gov. Fallin joined critics and signed the repeal legislation in June. At the time, she rebuffed Secretary Duncan for what she termed “condescending” criticism of the state.

Both Fallin and members of the Higher Education Regents say PASS amounts to a floor. The chief executive said, “The PASS standards are a baseline which we should never allow our students to fall below.

“The State Board of Education is currently working with administrators, teachers and parents to develop even more robust standards that will guarantee a greater percentage of our students find success in college and the workplace after graduating high school.”

You may contact Pat: patrick@capitolbeatok.com