Oklahoma education secretary hears complaints of overtesting from parents, students
BY KIM ARCHER World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 8:06 AM
JENKS - Oklahoma children are being so overtested that they are losing critical learning time in the classroom, parents told state Education Secretary 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, adding that the ACT is adapting to the more rigorous Common Core curriculum that Oklahoma plans to implement and is the "gold standard" of tests.
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 Legislature for not funding schools adequately, particularly for hiring 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."
State Sen. Brian Crain and state Reps. Pam Peterson and 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."
Original Print Headline: Education secretary hears overtesting, underfunding woes
Kim Archer 918-581-8315
Oklahoma Secretary of Education Phyllis Hudecki listens to Jenks Public Schools Superintendent Kirby Lehman during a Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee meeting Wednesday at the Jenks Math and Science Center. JOEY JOHNSON/ for the Tulsa World
State school board member Joy Hofmeister answers a question Wednesday during a Tulsa Parent Legislative Action Committee meeting in Jenks. State Education Secretary Phyllis Hudecki was the featured guest. JOEY JOHNSON/for the Tulsa World