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World of Jenks

May 19, 2013

No, the title isn’t a reference to the marginally popular MTV show of the same name; it’s a statement about the obsession that the SDE and the Oklahoman editorial page have with Jenks Public Schools.

I’ve commented before on editorials that randomly take shots at Jenks. This time, it’s the SDE opening an investigation because too many parents opted their children out of field tests. They want to make sure the school didn’t coax the parents into the opt out movement. From the Tulsa World:

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is investigating Jenks Public Schools apparently to see if its parent-led movement to opt students out of “field tests” was instigated or encouraged by district employees, the Tulsa World has learned.

“There is an investigation, but at this time, we don’t really want to discuss it so that it won’t be compromised,” said department spokeswoman Sherry Fair.

The state enforces strict security protocols to ensure the reliability of testing results. Officials declined to provide more specific information about what rules they think Jenks administrators might have violated.

Although state education officials declined to release specifics, it appears the investigation targets an opt-out movement among parents of Jenks Middle School students during last month’s testing period.

The school received a flurry of opt-out forms from parents in April asking that their children not be subjected to field tests, which are used by testing companies to evaluate questions for future use. They do not count in either a student’s grade or in a school’s state grade.

“Our kids are being used as unpaid subjects by CTB/McGraw-Hill (a testing vendor) without our consent or permission,” PTA President Deedra Barnes told the Tulsa World last month.

In response to a Tulsa World inquiry, Jenks district officials confirmed they had received an Open Records Act request from the department April 24 asking for a number of records related to testing.

Jenks spokeswoman Bonnie Rogers said the district is complying with the state’s request in accordance with state law.

“This was a parent-initiated movement and the district followed all state laws and regulations in administering state-mandated tests,” she said.

Rogers said she preferred not to comment further because of the ongoing investigation, except to say the district was surprised by the number of parents who opted their child out of the tests. About half the students did not take the field tests, she said.

It seems to me the SDE is more concerned about not compromising this witch hunt than they are with the extent to which the whole test process has been compromised. Typically, they only investigate irregularities such as excessive erasure marks. This is altogether different.Why do they find it hard to believe that a group of parents would object to field testing? They send their children to school to learn – not to serve as unpaid subjects of a testing company.

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  1. Kate
    May 19, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    State education officials declining to release specifics??? Really? Well, it IS difficult to release specifics when you don’t know what the specifics are….business as usual for state education officials.

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