Oklahoma public schools are getting ready for their most important tests of the year. The tests will decide whether some students pass or fail, and measure how well teachers perform.
At every Tulsa school, the testing starts Thursday for the Oklahoma core curriculum tests. It's the day teachers and students have working towards all year.
Every classroom at Grissom Elementary is focused on getting ready for the test. In Sallee Winton's 3rd grade math class, students did problems and proved to the teacher they can do the work. It's that instant feedback that helps Winton know her students are ready.
"They're learning strategies, test taking skills, and we're going back over everything that we've done," Winston said.
They have to be ready soon because the state math tests begin this week. They'll take math tests Thursday and Friday, and reading tests next Tuesday and Wednesday.
All those tests, hundreds of them in plastic tubs to keep them organized, are locked up in the counselor's office. Each one is sealed, the test booklets and answer sheets are numbered, each assigned to individual teachers and students; who all have to schedule around who takes what test and when.
It's a huge undertaking.
Grissom Counselor, Diana Day, said, "Pretty much everything shuts down for a couple of weeks while we get things ready. Everything has to be locked up for test security."
Day said in her nine years as counselor, she's seen the emphasis on the test grow, but notes this is the first year it's been a pass or fail test for 3rd grade reading.
She believes almost all of the Grissom students will pass, but predicts that a handful will not.
"No matter how effective the teaching, no matter how much effort the students puts into the test, they will not be able to do it, and those are the ones that your heart goes out to, their families; they're doing everything they can do," Day said.
For 3rd graders who fail the reading test, they can take it again at the end of summer, and TPS is offering summer tutoring to help them catch up. If they are special ed. or have other issues, there are alternative ways to pass on to 4th grade.
Statewide, all the testing begins Thursday.