Oklahoma School Districts Meet To Discuss Dumping Graduation Test
MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma - A broad group of school districts met in Muskogee Thursday night to support rolling back a new standard for high school graduation: a test to measure what they've learned.
For the first time this year, Oklahoma is requiring students to pass 4 of 7 "end of instruction" tests that measure understanding of core subjects. The legislature will consider eliminating the requirement that students pass the tests.
The group represents well over a dozen school districts in eastern Oklahoma. State lawmakers from the area have pledged to them they'll try to end high stakes testing for high school students.
"They go for 13 years and pass their classes with certified teachers in certified schools, and they get a diploma. And that's what this bill allows to happen," said State Representative Jerry McPeak, (D) Warner.
The lawmakers and school administrators want to make sure that students who can't pass the tests can still get a diploma.
Unless the law changes - students who can't pass most of the tests - would not graduate.
Starting this year, students will take end of instruction tests and must pass four of the seven subjects: English 2 & 3, U.S. History, Biology, Algebra 1 & 2, and Geometry.
However, the new proposed standard would be that students "shall not be required to attain a proficient score on the tests in order to graduate."
"High stakes testing was an elevation of the existing standard. We want the tests to remain as they have been for many years," said Dr. Kirby Lehman, Jenks Superintendent.
The superintendent in Jenks says about 7 percent of his senior class doesn't meet the standard.
"In Jenks, we currently have 50 seniors who are scheduled to graduate in May who have not met ACE requirements," Dr. Lehman said.
Special education teacher Brenda Edwards from Kinta says testing doesn't really demonstrate what students have learned.
"I think by not letting them have a diploma, we're limiting them to a future and we're going to have an economy and a world with a lot more of the problems we're trying to get away from," Edwards said.
Schools districts have been preparing for the new standard for years, but the legislature could eliminate it just before it takes effect - and prevents students from graduating.
If that happens, there would be no distinction between a diploma for a student who didn't pass the tests - and one who did.