State education secretary to take local concerns back to governor
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
JENKS — Oklahoma children are being so over-tested that they are losing critical learning time in the classroom, parents told state Secretary of Education Phyllis Hudecki on Wednesday.
“I agree. We’re testing too many things,” Hudecki said. “I don’t know exactly how it snowballed the way it has.”
Hudecki appeared at a meeting of the Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee in Jenks to answer questions and listen to parents’ concerns.
As a member of Gov. Mary Fallin’s Cabinet, she said she would take their ideas back to the governor.
One parent suggested that the state use ACT college entrance exams, rather than end-of-instruction tests, to determine whether students are prepared for college.
“I do not understand the ongoing use of the EOIs,” the parent said. The ACT is adapting to the more rigorous Common Core curriculum that Oklahoma plans to implement and is the “gold standard” of tests, she said.
Hudecki said discussions are under way about “going back to use the ACT.” And she said a new data system is nearly in place to track students into their college years and analyze whether the EOIs are useful.
Sand Springs High School junior Aileen Polanski told Hudecki that “I believe that I speak for myself and my friends when I say we are so tested-out at this point.”
An advanced student, Polanski listed the numerous tests she took just last year, including the ACT and end-of-instruction tests in advanced world history, biology, Algebra II and English.
The latter test actually amounts to two tests, with a multiple-choice test on one day and a writing test the next, she said.
“The tests take away from class time,” Polanski said. “I’d much rather be in my classroom learning than clicking A, B or C on a multiple-choice test.”
The 16-year-old said she attended the meeting because she wanted to let state officials know what the constant testing is like from a student’s perspective.
“I don’t think my merit should be based on one test score,” Polanski said. “I think it should be based on everything I’ve done.”
Several parents and educators criticized the state Legislature for not providing enough school funding, particularly to hire teachers. Some said they think legislators don’t care about public education and keep passing mandates they don’t fund.
“There are lots of people, including the governor, who are hearing you,” Hudecki said. “Addressing school funding is an absolute must. You should see more work on that next legislative session.”
Sen. Brian Crain, Rep. Pam Peterson and Rep. Glen Mulready, all Tulsa Republicans, and Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, a Tulsa Democrat, attended the meeting.
Broken Arrow Superintendent Jarod Mendenhall said he thinks education reforms are coming too quickly. “As we look at the reforms, let’s slow down,” he said. “One quote I heard is ‘We’re building the airplane as we fly it.’ It’s not even a good business plan. It’s ridiculous.”
Recent reforms include the A-F school grading system, the social promotion law, the new teacher evaluation system and the high-stakes testing graduation law.
Hudecki said she couldn’t agree with him more.
“Right now, less is more,” she said. “It has been too much too soon, and the capacity is not there. We need to fund what we’re doing and let them take root.”
Phyllis Hudecki listens to Jenks Superintendent Kirby Lehman during a Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee meeting at the Jenks Math and Science Center on Wednesday evening. JOEY JOHNSON for the Tulsa World