Oklahoma's New State School Superintendent Ready To Reform Schools

Tuesday, January 18th 2011, 12:12 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma --  The new state superintendent of education brought a message of reform to Broken Arrow Schools Tuesday morning.

Janet Barresi said she wants to start the reform process by changing the priorities for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

"I want to transform it from being a regulatory agency to more of a service agency that serves the districts," she said.

Barresi toured Broken Arrow's new performing arts center, and listened to a practice session by the band.

While she said most of what she wants to do now is listen, she talked a lot about changing how the state measures learning in elementary schools.

"We're going to be looking at reforming testing, as soon as possible, next year probably not, but we'd like to take a look at testing in the younger grades to be more formative tests rather than end of the year instructions," she said.

Right now, it takes almost a year to get the results of state testing. Barresi wants teachers to get that information while they still have the student in class.

"Because really what these tests need to do, they need to tell a teacher what a child knows," Baresi said. "They need to show a teacher if a child has learning gaps during the year, not at the end of the year, or during that summer time."

And in a question and answer session with Broken Arrow students, Barresi said she also doesn't have confidence in how the state tests elementary students.

"But I'm very concerned in the younger grades that our Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test are end of instruction exams and I don't have to tell anyone here that it's a mad rush at the end of the year to cram facts into kids and drill kids for what largely is a memory test, and I'm very concerned about that," she said.

Barresi said she's telling districts they have to comply with a state law on paying private tuition for special needs students, while at the same time working with the legislature to change the law.