Weekly Radio Message - State Superintendent Janet Barresi

Below is the transcript from State Supt. Barresi's weekly radio message from December 19, 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.

I'd like to talk to you about preparing Oklahoma's children for the century ahead. Are our students prepared for the 21st century?

Are they prepared to enter a workforce filled with high-tech demands or to compete with peers across the world for jobs?

In Oklahoma we can no longer take for granted that students graduating from high school are entering the same kind of job market they would have 10, 20 or 30 years ago. So, how do we prepare them?

That’s why Oklahoma passed the bipartisan Achieving Classroom Excellence standards seven years ago. ACE requires this year’s seniors to pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to secure a diploma. In November, I announced that about 84 percent of all high school seniors have met ACE requirements, putting them on track to graduate.

There are some in our state who say this requirement is too strenuous. I believe, however, that an Oklahoma high school diploma should show students have developed the critical thinking skills that are crucial in the 21st century. It should mean they are ready for the demands of college, career and citizenship.

Granting a piece of paper without the demonstrated mastery to make it valuable won’t increase a graduate’s chances of passing a college or military entrance exam or being able to perform well in a job. By pressing forward with ACE, we honor the children, parents and educators who have worked so hard to prepare for this moment.

Many superintendents across the state are leading the way with this reform.

At Marlow Public Schools, Superintendent George E. Coffman Jr. said only one of his 90 seniors has not yet passed all four EOIs. But teachers are doing everything possible to ensure the student’s success. They come in early for tutoring and are constantly evaluating progress.

In the much larger Bartlesville Public School District, Superintendent Gary Quinn said 31 of his high school’s 357 seniors have yet to pass all four EOIs. What struck me is that his staff knows each of these students by name and each need. Quinn said in the past, some of these students would have dropped out, but his educators have made every effort to keep them in school.

He says his staff is working hard to help each student be successful.

That’s the take-away. Without ACE these students would have graduated. They’ve met their course requirements; they’ve done their seat time. But they can’t yet demonstrate mastery of required subjects. But because of ACE they are getting individual attention. When they get their diploma, they will appreciate its value.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you soon 

Last updated on January 23, 2012