Tulsa Group Against High Stakes Testing For Third Graders

Wednesday, January 15th 2014, 7:00 pm
By: Tess Maune

High stakes testing is putting a new type of pressure on elementary students in Oklahoma.

There's now a grassroots movement of parents, teachers and administrators who are pushing lawmakers to make changes in a law they say will hinder students in the long run.

Jill Davis with the Oklahoma Coalition Against High Stakes Testing, said, "High stakes testing is testing with something attached to it, whether it's some kind of reward or a punishment."

It's the new norm for school kids in Oklahoma and a group of parents and teachers is not happy about it.

Parent and teacher Stephanie Brown said, "Personally, I would just like it to be done away with all together."

The most recent students to fall under the high stakes testing category are third graders.

This school year a new law went into effect, which has put a renewed focus on literacy. Now, if a third grade student fails the state-mandated reading test, he or she, with a few exceptions, will be held back a year.

"They did not consider the educational aspects and the consequences it's gonna have on all of these third graders," Brown said.

Brown's two youngest are twins in the second grade, one of whom follows an individualized learning plan.

"This act does not look at that or take that into account at all, so he is just thrown out there with every other single third grader to take this test with no exceptions," said Brown.

Opponents agree there are certain situations where holding a student back does help, but they say that decision should be made at the local level, with a thoughtful conversation between the teacher and parent, not with a test.

"They're like nine year olds and ten year olds worried about whether they're gonna get to move on based on one test that measures one moment, one time," said Davis.

State Representatives Katie Henke and Jadine Nollan met with the Oklahoma Coalition Against High-Stakes Testing, Tuesday night.

Both lawmakers say they're working on legislation right now to make changes to the retention law.

"It's my hope that we'll be able to do some very positive things for our third graders and I hope we do it sooner than later," Nollan said.

High school students are also a part of high stakes testing in the state. They must pass four out of seven of the year end exams in order to graduate.