Editorial: Board never met to oversee state-required tests
BY World's Editorials Writers
Friday, April 20, 2012
4/20/12 at 3:45 AM
Three years ago the Legislature passed a law that established the Educational Quality and Accountability Board. It was to oversee the growing array of standardized tests that Oklahoma students are required to take in order to prove that they are good at taking tests.
The board was to meet quarterly to set cut scores (the scores that determine which test-takers fall into which categories), review tests and recommend improvements.
Members were appointed to the board, but, according to one of them, Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller, the board has never met.
In a letter to state senators, Miller said the state has not followed its own laws regarding governance of the Oklahoma State Testing Program, "the very program that now threatens to withhold a diploma from many students across the state ... ."
(Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday signed a law that calls for an appeals process for high school seniors who fall into that category.)
Miller said that by not following its own laws, the state has exposed itself to "potentially embarrassing and costly litigation."
Miller repeatedly questioned the board's failure to meet. One Senate staffer told him that the author of the law that established the board, Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, had put it on hold. Jolley told the Tulsa World's Kim Archer he did no such thing.
Jolley blamed the snafu on the previous state Superintendent of Public Instruction and Department of Education. That excuse doesn't wash. Nearly half of the three years since the law was passed has been under the administration of the current superintendent, Janet Barresi.
Actually, the whole thing is fairly characteristic of the Legislature's attitude toward public schools. Lawmakers don't hesitate to require more tests, or mandate such things as letter grades for schools, a requirement that labels low-performing schools and their students as failures.
But that's pretty much where the Legislature's interest in public education ends. It has consistently failed to fund necessary remedial programs for students who have trouble with the tests. And it has slashed tens of millions of dollars from school budgets.
In this atmosphere, Miller's revelation is hardly surprising.
Original Print Headline: Oversight?