Majority of students throughout Oklahoma’s public schools are expected to see significantly lower proficiency rates when the school district receives their test scores later this year. Educators and school board members are letting parents know it’s not because of the student’s performance.
The new Oklahoma Academic Standards for high school students now are embedded with the same benchmarks of success required on ACT and SAT college entrance exams, and for elementary students and middle schoolers, benchmarks from the National Assessment for Educational Progress, or NAEP.
On Monday night’s Guthrie Board of Education meeting, Asst. Superintendent Doug Ogle and Executive Director Carmen Walters shared the findings and recommendations of a State Department of Education (SDE) task force group.
“Before we were just comparing everything to the state. Now, they (SDE) want to increase that rigor and be more aligned to what’s going on nationally,” Ogle explained to the school board.
For example, in 2015 in both fourth-grade reading and math, around 70 percent of Oklahoma students were defined as proficient on the state test.
However, when using proficiency standards from the NAEP, which were adopted by the state this year, shows 35 percent of Oklahoma fourth-graders are considered proficient in each subject.
Another example, 75 percent of Oklahoma eighth-grade students were proficient to state testing, but would have scored just 29 percent using the national assessment.
The scores will be based on a student’s performance on a single test.
Ogle said the SDE sent an email to Oklahoma teachers weeks ago to inform them of the upcoming changes.
“I’m going to speak as an individual and not as board president,” Jennifer Bennett-Johnson started out with. “One of my concerns about this new evaluation program is Oklahoma voted not to follow the common core standards that had been pushed from a national level and now we are moving back toward that.”
She continued, “my heart is out to parents and teachers and students that are going through this. Do not be dishearten by the scores that you will see.”
Board member Janna Pierson added, “I think we are all discouraged by it because we keep adding things to the teachers and we don’t let the teachers just teach. We’re going to teach to another test.”
State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister put it bluntly in Tulsa last week.
“The scores will drop, so just be ready.”
After Oklahoma abandoned Common Core standards, the state was forced to adopt new academic standards. Hofmeister explained that the Oklahoma educators who helped write the standards and set new cut scores intentionally made them much more rigorous.
She added, “We want our families to appreciate there will be a change, but it doesn’t mean our children are any less capable or that our schools are any less committed,” Hofmeister said. “In a way, it’s like turning the lights on after playing in a dark gym. We’re using the same effort to shoot that basket, but now we can see in a new way.”
You can view this topic at the 16:16 mark of the video below.