Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from March 11, 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’d like to talk to you about ACE … which stands for Achieving Classroom Excellence.

There are some troubling moves on the horizon to try to water down or delay ACE and I want to share with you why that should not happen, and why all Oklahomans should be concerned.

ACE was a landmark bipartisan effort passed as law half a decade ago in 2005. The basic goal of ACE is to raise expectations for students, knowing that students will rise to the challenge.

I’ve been a part of ACE including my work as chairwoman for the ACE Two Task Force, and I’ve been proud of state leaders for enacting this change.

The law requires that beginning in the ninth grade, students must pass tests to demonstrate mastery of subjects like English, algebra, geometry, biology and U.S. history. They must do this in order to get a high school diploma.

You see, or too many years a high school diploma simply didn’t require enough work  and we have seen the results; too many students requiring remediation for basic subjects when they arrive at college and too many students who were not prepared for the workforce if they chose not to attend college.

Now as we face a global competition for excellence, we can’t afford to dumb down our standards.

Just as the increased standards of ACE are taking effect some are trying roll back these requirements. One bill was introduced that would have tried to create an “alternate” diploma for students that couldn’t pass the tests.

Another – House Bill 1585 – has passed committee and would delay implementation of ACE.
This effort to roll back ACE comes even as we’ve learned troubling news about how Oklahoma students are doing compared to the rest of the world.

We know that in one study Oklahoma ranked among third-world nations when it comes to top-performing math students, and we know Oklahoma students are falling significantly behind in science.

Our economic future depends on Oklahoma’s ability to produce students ready for the demands of the 21st century marketplace. We must start expecting success from our students rather than enabling mediocrity.

The good news is that Oklahoma is on track to make curriculum and testing for students even more rigorous than what ACE requires.

Dumbing down standards is the equivalent of knocking children off the ladder to success just as they are beginning to climb.

We are doing children no favors by trying to make excuses or pushing for delays.

Oklahoma has had half a decade to prepare for ACE.  It’s time to move forward.

I hope you’ll join me in letting lawmakers and local school leaders know that you will stand for increased excellence, and that you won’t stand for dumbing down standards or rolling back ACE.

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

Last updated on December 14, 2011