Of Standards and Rules
In case you missed it, Oklahoma’s Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) have become the Oklahoma Academic Standards (OAS). Though this transition has gone largely unnoticed, evidence is everywhere at the Vision 2020 Conference.
The standards known as PASS have been codified in law and administrative rules for more than 20 years. After the standards were introduced in the early 1990s, they were revised multiple times, usually coinciding with the year ahead of the textbook adoption cycle. For example, if the state was going to adopt new textbooks in science, the previous year would see committees of state employees, school teachers, and college professors working in committees to update the standards. The process has always been organic and powered by the teachers in this state. Yes, the state drove the process, but it was always teachers providing the energy from their experiences in the classroom to make changes.
In 2010, by legislative action, Oklahoma adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). These standards would replace PASS, at least for reading/language arts and math. They hadn’t been written yet, but they were on the way. This decision, supported by a Democrat in the Governor’s Mansion and one at the SDE, has been supported time and again by their replacements, both Republicans. In fact, across the country, the drive to standardize the curriculum has been bi-partisan.
In 2011, after taking office, Superintendent Barresi quickly renamed all of Oklahoma’s standards the College, Career, and Citizenship (C3) readiness standards. This was the national trend…getting all three of these words into everything education. We’re not just preparing kids for college; we’re preparing them for careers and citizenship! Lately, all things trending national in education are being blamed on the President. Whether it be CCSS or C3, we can’t risk looking like we agree with Obama on anything! It might cost us the election ruin the children!
Earlier this year, the State Board of Education adopted rules that both eliminated PASS and all references to it from the administrative code. The rules also took the legislature out of the approval process. You see, under PASS, any changes to the state standards had to be ratified by the legislature. Accordingly, the SBE changes were rejected by the legislature. Or more accurately, the SDE pulled the changes before they could be rejected.
Then last week, when the SDE finally released the program for Vision 2020, just about every session somehow had the OAS worked into the description, in many cases, to the surprise of the presenters. We’re taking the CCSS and calling them the OAS without changing a word. There’s even a campaign for the re-brand. Check out their website: For the Road Ahead, which proclaims, “Oklahoma Academic Standards are custom-built for PreK-12 students in Oklahoma.”
Except they aren’t. Again, we’ve adopted the CCSS and relabeled them the OAS. There’s nothing custom about it.
We’re pulling out of PARCC testing, but remaining in the consortium – as a governing member – so we can take what we’re learning from the process and work with a testing company to make our own tests. You know, that company that screwed up all the tests this year? Yeah, that one.
(Oh, wait, there’s going to be a request for proposals. I forgot.)
Remember as you attend day two of the conference, in spite of the appearances, you’re not in a professional learning environment. You’re smack dab in the middle of a political infomercial. Reality is elusive.