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Curious Coverage

July 3, 2013

The decision – and let me word this carefully – to opt out of PARCC assessments while remaining in the consortium as a governing state, is a very big deal. Oklahoma leaders and educators have invested considerable time and money in the effort to develop the next generation assessments. We’ll never recoup that. We lost precious time in preparing our students for a now-irrelevant framework.

The Tulsa World has covered this story in depth. They have even asked questions to school leaders in their area. Below are some of the comments from their article:

“I find this whole getting out of PARCC perplexing. While I have said there’s too much time spent on assessments and I am not in favor, necessarily, that we stay in PARCC, I support Common Core, and I don’t see this abrupt move resolving anything,” Ballard said.

“I see little real leadership being shown because there is no thought given to where does that leave us.”

Bonnie Rogers, a spokeswoman for Jenks Public Schools, noted that patrons and educators in that district have expressed great concern about the time devoted to state-mandated testing.

But she said Jenks school officials “would disagree with Superintendent Barresi’s assertion that school districts did not have the expertise to prepare for the amount of technology needed to administer online tests.”

Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said he agrees with Barresi’s decision about PARCC but was aggravated “about her once again giving most of the blame to local school districts.”

“I can’t help but wonder if this is all political posturing,” he said. “I am worried about the next steps. Many things from the state Department of Education are unpredictable and unexplainable.”

The Oklahoma Education Association recently issued a report detailing schools’ many difficulties with CTB-McGraw Hill and calling for 2013 standardized tests to be invalidated.

The teachers association called the testing vendor “grossly deficient” and detailed failures that had nothing to do with online testing, including mistakes on paper tests, significant delays and mix-ups in their delivery to schools and even practice tests that weren’t aligned with the actual tests.

“At what point is the state superintendent of public instruction going to quit blaming public schools and hold this corporate testing company responsible?” OEA President Linda Hampton asked.

She called on greater transparency from Barresi, saying parents and educators deserve an explanation about why her decision was not discussed at last week’s State Board of Education meeting, who will develop the new tests and how they will be any different from the state’s current tests.

“It also bothered us that the state board never talked about renewing the CTB McGraw-Hill contract but the contract has been renewed,” she said. “It seems to becq they have rewarded this company with a contract renewal.

For their coverage, the Oklahoman has been linking to the World articles. I find no original content on the NewsOK website related to Oklahoma’s decision to pull out of take a break from PARCC.

As school leaders begin processing this information, one big issue will be communicating the fallout from it to their teachers, parents, school boards, and communities. The way leaders choose to have that conversation will be worth covering as well. The misinformation from Barresi’s claim that the majority of technical issues were the schools’ fault needs correcting. The possibility that Oklahoma will simply remain with the same testing company that caused so much student and teacher distress needs challenging.

In other words, we have a long way to go to make sure the public has all the facts to understand whether the implications of this decision have been fully considered, and whether it’s the right decision at all.

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  1. July 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Kate
    July 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Making sure the public has all the facts will be a difficult task because every day the info from the SDE and the State Dentist changes….depending on how the wind blows it seems. The decision making process of the SDE and Barresi seems to have no rhyme or reason. What a coincidence that it is election time right around the corner and suddenly she is “listening” to educators??? She has been all over the state on her “listening tours” since she took office and now all of a sudden she is taking what she hears into consideration? Give everyone a break……… Perhaps PARCC will ask her to opt out all together…… How can you be a governing state and not participate in the assessments which is what PARCC is about? Rest assured the State Dentist’s decisions are self-serving. She has clearly shown over the past 2+ years how she truly feels about educators.

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