Fallin inks appeals bill; now Oklahoma high school seniors having trouble with new proficiency tests can have a hearing
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Thursday, April 19, 2012
4/19/12 at 7:24 AM
Related story: Educator: Test mandate lacks needed oversight.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed a measure that creates an appeals process for students denied a diploma because they could not pass four out of seven end-of-instruction tests.
This is the first year graduating seniors must pass the exams to receive the diploma.
House Bill 2970 requires the State Board of Education to create an appeals process for those students.
Students would have 30 days after being denied a diploma to appeal the decision to the board. The board would have 45 days to take action on the appeal.
Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith Ballard lauded the legislature for passing the measure and Fallin for signing it.
"I think there definitely needs to be an appeals process," Ballard said.
But he would have preferred that the appeal go to the local board of education.
Ballard said the issue is complicated. He said he is not opposed to having the testing as the standard, but there are legitimate reasons a student would need an appeals process.
"On behalf of all students in Oklahoma who have completed the required course work for graduation from their local high schools but who have extenuating circumstances that have rendered them unable to complete the ACE-related testing, thanks to the legislature's and governor's willingness to offer those students an opportunity to have their unique situations heard through an appeal process before the State Board of Education," Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman said in a statement.
Educators are asking the State Department of Education to act quickly so seniors who have unusual situations can receive a hearing to determine if they have earned the right to graduate and have a fighting chance for gainful employment, Lehman said.
Currently, the state Department of Education has alternative routes for students who can't pass the test.
Those routes include retesting, alternative testing or completion of a project that shows mastery in the coursework. Students who have extenuating circumstances can also see recourse.
Extenuating circumstances are situations that are unexpected, significantly disruptive and beyond the student's control.
By the numbers
Estimated number, in early March, of Tulsa-area seniors affected by the testing graduation requirement:
||Not passed tests*
Oklahoma City Public Schools reported that 311 of its 1,314 high school seniors had not met ACE standards at the time.
* Totals change daily
House Bill 2970
What happened: Gov. Mary Fallin signed it.
What it does: It creates an appeals process for high school seniors who can't pass four out of seven end-of-instruction exams required to get a diploma.
Effective date: Immediately.
Original Print Headline: Fallin signs school appeals bill
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin speaks during the Broken Arrow Chamber's luncheon at NSU-Broken Arrow, on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World