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Tulsa Superintendent: 'It Is Not An Option' For Teachers To Refuse Testing

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TULSA, Oklahoma - Two Tulsa teachers are refusing to give their students any more tests, and the superintendent is not happy about it.

As we first reported Tuesday night, those teachers wrote parents a letter saying how much time testing was taking away from teaching and learning.

The two first-grade teachers at Skelly Elementary call themselves “conscientious objectors” on student testing. They said they won't give the tests, but the superintendent says they must.

Nikki Jones and Karen Hendren said their only agenda is to do what's best for the children in their classroom.

Jones: "We're paid to proctor tests...”

Hendren: ... and teach kids. They want us to teach kids how to take tests."

They both teach first grade at Skelly, or as they put it -- they teach in between all the testing.

By their measure, first-graders will spend 25 hours this year taking standardized tests. The teachers will spend 288 hours giving them, because some are one on one.

"It's the amount of time, 72 instructional days assessing, that's too much time assessing," Jones said.

11/19/2014 Related Story: Two Tulsa Teachers Refusing To Give Standardized Tests

The teachers posted their complaints and decision to stop testing in a blog post; that prompted Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard to email teachers a note that said:

"It is not an option for teachers to refuse to administer (testing)."

He was upset about how they complained as well.

"I'm sorry that teachers felt so frustrated they felt they had to go outside the system, and as superintendent I can't tolerate that and I won't," he said.

The teachers aren't sure what will happen to them and recognize they could be fired for refusing to follow orders.

But they said it's more important to spend time teaching instead of giving tests just to generate proof the children aren't making enough progress.

"We have to stand up for the kids and speak for them,” Hendren said. “They're young, and they can't say anything. …They need someone to say, ‘We've had enough. We've had enough of it."

For now, it's a standoff.

The students haven't missed a test yet, but again the superintendent said teachers can't refuse to do testing. He still hopes they can work something out before the next tests right after Christmas break.

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