Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from May 6, 2011. The audio file is attached below.


Hello and welcome to my weekly video message.

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

This week I wanted to talk about some of the historic accomplishments we’ve seen in education reform this year. In any other yea just one of these reforms would be significant.

To see an entire package of reforms adopted into law in a single legislative session is absolutely historic and I want to thank Governor Fallin, Speaker Kris Steele, President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and reform-minded lawmakers for their leadership.

Governor Fallin this week signed two key reforms that are a part of our 3R agenda to rethink, restructure and reform our state’s education system.

Senate Bill 346 ends social promotion after the third grade for students who can’t read at proficient levels and House Bill 1456 requires a new a-through-f report card for schools so that parents and citizens have a clear idea about how schools are doing.

Parents have a right to know how schools are performing without having to wade through obscure numbers. The new report card for schools will help everyone and I’ve heard from so many Oklahomans who have told me that they know it will motivate communities to help schools improve.

House Bill 1456 requires an annual a-through-f report card and it will be based on a number of different measurements such as student test scores, learning gains in reading and math, improvements of students in the lowest performing quartile of their class and whole-school improvement.

The other reform, Senate Bill 346, is vital because we’re drawing a line in the sand to help children succeed in their most critical learning years.

Senate Bill 346 focuses on early intervention so that educators can identify problems and adopt individualized learning strategies with children in pre-K and kindergarten.

Children who aren’t prepared after the third grade fall significantly behind and grow increasingly frustrated and we are setting kids up for failure if we don’t help them in their early learning years.

Ending social promotion will instead set kids up for success.

I know from personal experience how this can change a student’s life. When I was in the second grade, I struggled with reading. My teachers spotted the problem, helped me, and put me on the path to learning. If I had fallen through the cracks, I would have instead gone down the path of academic frustration. To this day I still remember Miss Foresman, my second grade teacher who helped me, and I want to make sure other students receive the same kind of help.

None of the reforms that are being passed this year are a panacea for all of our problems, but the cumulative effect will be an important first step in improving our state’s education system.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.

Last updated on January 12, 2012