Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barressi's weekly radio message from Nov. 7, 2011. The audio file is attached below.


Hello and welcome to my regular video message.

I’m Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction.

Last week we took a look at the Nation’s Report Card, otherwise known as NAEP. In math, Oklahoma is one of only 13 states to show a statistically significant gain over 2009 scores in the number of students scoring proficient. Our scores have more than doubled since 2000.

That’s encouraging news.

We’re still behind the nation, however, and about two thirds of our fourth and eighth-graders are still below proficient in math. The picture is more troubling for reading, where scores mostly have remained flat for the past four years and fourth-grade scores even declined a little bit from scores released two years ago.

While this shows we’re not making the gains we’d like to see in closing the achievement gap, we are looking ahead to implementation of reforms and other changes that will help.

First, we’ve requested a waiver from the federal government under the No Child Left Behind Act.

No Child Left Behind was a positive bipartisan reform that placed an important emphasis on measurable results, but it has also had its share of snags. Our flexibility request is not about stepping back from progress but about finding what will work best for each child in our school system. This will allow us to focus on education that truly works to transform the knowledge of each child.

The recent NAEP scores also demonstrate that our recently approved state reforms -- such as third-grade graduation, more funding for reading sufficiency and new A through F report cards assigning letter grades to school performance -- are absolutely critical, and we must work quickly to implement them.

I believe we will begin to see improvement in these national scores after we’ve had a chance to implement reforms. But it will take time. And it will take all of us – parents, grandparents, educators and community members – working together.

Now, I want to talk about another important subject.

Friday November 11 is Veteran’s Day, a day to honor all of our heroes who have served or are serving our country here and abroad. Schools all over Oklahoma will have ceremonies to observe this important holiday. I hope that all of us remember to take a part of that day to thank a veteran for their service and their sacrifice. I encourage parents and educators to remind students to be thankful for our freedoms as well.

I know I will be thinking of my father, who fought in World War Two; my brother John, who fought in Vietnam; and my cousin Kim, who lost his life in Vietnam.

And I would like to say thank you to all of our veterans – those living and serving and those who have paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

Thanks for listening. We’ll visit again soon.

Last updated on December 14, 2011