OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 28, 2013) – In 2010, Oklahoma made a commitment to raise the educational bar for children. With the passage of Senate Bill 2033 that called for the implementation of college and career ready standards, Oklahoma teachers are now in the final stages of aligning instruction to those new standards this school year.
"Now that we've reached our first milestone, increasing the rigor of the Oklahoma Academic Standards, Oklahomans across the state need to give full support to our teachers as we begin to assess children on these new standards," State Superintendent Janet Barresi said. "Education reform is never easy, but I know that our teachers and our students are ready to answer this challenge."
Governor Mary Fallin applauds the efforts of our students and teachers. “Nothing is more important to the prosperity of this state and its residents than high quality education. To deliver that education and ensure our children have the skills they need to succeed in today’s economy, Oklahoma must raise the bar when it comes to academic standards.
“Oklahoma has great teachers and great schools. If we increase rigor in the classroom, students will rise to the challenge. We know that requiring higher scores on exit exams and standardized tests comes with growing pains. We will work through these challenges with teachers, administrators, parents and students to ensure these higher standards are met. Ultimately, greater rigor in the classroom will empower our children by helping them to achieve success both in school and in the workforce.”
Superintendent Barresi made the call to action for supporting teachers and students in increasing academic achievement at a press conference on Wednesday, August 28, in the Governor’s Blue Room at the State Capitol. The event coincided with State Department of Education officials releasing preliminary student test scores from spring 2013 to school districts.
Joining Superintendent Barresi in the call to action were Dr. Robert Sommers, Secretary of Education and Workforce Development and State Director of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education; Dr. Glen Johnson, Chancellor of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Chuck Mills, President of Mills Manufacturing Company and Chairman Elect of the State Chamber of Oklahoma; and Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma.
More challenging test questions were included in the 2013 spring assessments to reflect the more rigorous Oklahoma Academic Standards. Questions were added to the 5th and 8th grade science and writing tests and end-of-instruction biology test. These more challenging test questions helped prepare students for the more rigorous assessments that follow full implementation of college and career standards. Cut scores to measure proficiency also were increased for these tested subjects. Cut scores are like the defined range of scores that qualifies student work for letter grades such as A’s, B’s, etc. on classroom assignments and tests.
SDE officials say assessments aligned to the new academic standards will become more rigorous. Although this will mean an initial drop in test scores across the state, as teachers and children become accustomed to this new, better way of learning, test scores will rebound.
“Just as the new standards incorporate reading, writing and math across all subject areas, the new assessments will as well. We are no longer asking students to memorize facts and figures for multiple-choice tests. We are asking them to read two or more paragraphs, write out their answers in short essay form and, in some cases, defend their answers by showing their work,” explained Dr. Maridyth McBee, Assistant State Superintendent of Accountability and Assessment.
“Now that we know the extent of the challenge, everyone must join together and support our teachers and students. This is what we want. We want our children to be college, career and citizen ready. Prepared to compete with the best and the brightest,” Barresi said. “The toughest part of our journey is here, and we cannot let our teachers and students travel the road alone. We must be there for them to provide all the support they need.”
To help teachers, the State Department of Education offers several professional development opportunities such as:
In closing, Barresi commented, “Time and again I have seen the bar raised for children, and they have successfully risen to meet the challenge. We must remember, if there was ever a state that has proven it can rise to a challenge and come out on top, it’s Oklahoma.”