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Oklahoma's Superintendent-Elect Takes School Tour To Claremore

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

One month before she takes office, state superintendent-elect Joy Hofmeister is trying to visit as many Oklahoma school districts as possible.

Hofmeister said she wants to hear from teachers about what they want to see from her. She spent Wednesday in Claremore, covering topics from testing to teacher pay. And it seems the teachers are just looking for someone to truly listen.

"Teachers are worn down a bit," seventh-grade math teacher Tracey Nibleck said.

Nibleck loves her job and so do each of her fellow staff members, but morale is not good at all, she said.

"Our last state superintendent we definitely felt our opinion wasn't valued,” Nibleck said. “…we weren't listened to."

So when soon-to-be state superintendent Hofmeister gave the crowd her attention, the questions and comments started rolling. Teachers asked for answers on evaluations and testing.

"Instead of me teaching enriching material for a month, I've got kids in and out of my room because they're testing,” Nibleck said.

And what about incentives to keep good teachers around?

"We need to be paid enough to bring people in, and I see people leaving every day," one teacher said.

Hofmeister said “the morale and desire to teach and over regulation and over testing is part of the problem."

She spoke about pairing up with scientific researchers to best decide how to evaluate teachers and students rather than putting so much emphasis on test scores, and that made the crowd happy.

"It's one day these kids are testing,” Nibleck said. “If they haven't had breakfast that morning, that makes a huge impact on the way they test."

Hofmeister is pushing for a more ACT-based testing model.

"I mean don't tell our kids, but no colleges are looking at end-of-instruction scores," Hofmeister said. “We would see scholarship opportunities go up if we focus more on something that does have value afterwards… yet still satisfies the requirements at the federal and state level."

Hofmeister was in Moore on Monday and her next stops are Edmond and Owasso.

Another concern from teachers today is there isn't a vendor lined up for spring tests.Current superintendent Janet Baressi might have it on the December state board of education for a vote, but that remains to be seen.

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