More Responses to Barresi’s Response to the Testing Debacle
Below is a joint statement released today by CCOSA (Cooperative Council of Oklahoma School Administrators) and USSA (United Suburban Schools Association) regarding Superintendent Barresi’s response to the recent testing disruption:
|Recent comments made by State Superintendent Janet Barresi regarding the statewide student testing disruption which occurred in April are disappointing. Superintendent Barresi’s words and conduct reveal a politician desperate to assign blame away from herself while attempting to appear competent for her position.
In April of this year students in Oklahoma and Indiana experienced significant disruptions while taking their end of year tests. Both Oklahoma and Indiana were served by the same testing company. The inability of the testing company to ensure that districts could properly administer assessments resulted in compromised test data due to a variety of psychometric factors.
Initially both the testing company as well as Superintendent Barresi acknowledged that testing disruptions were the result of the testing company’s “lack of hardware space” for the number of students taking assessments in Oklahoma and Indiana. Despite Superintendent Barresi’s later claim that she had “zero involvement in the entire [testing] process from start to finish personally,” the contract between Oklahoma and the testing company was reviewed and approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. Superintendent Barresi is the President of the Oklahoma State Board of Education and would therefore have been involved in approving the testing contract. Furthermore, the State Department of Education is responsible for assisting districts during the student assessment period as well as ensuring that districts comply with various testing protocols. Janet Barresi is responsible for all functions of the State Department of Education. When a problem occurs at that agency, ultimately she is to blame.
Rather than targeting Oklahoma educators, which is now part of a larger pattern of her conduct, Superintendent Barresi should personally get involved with the most important aspect of the work she was elected to do. Student assessment is critical to the implementation of reform initiatives. Superintendent Barresi should rise to the occasion and provide solutions for Oklahoma students, parents and educators impacted by the testing disruption.
Under the Barresi administration, student assessment has become increasingly high stakes. Student tests are now used to deny high school seniors a diploma, to grade schools on an A-F scale and will soon be used to determine the effectiveness of teachers and principals. It is disturbing that the elected State Superintendent, charged with the proper implementation of reforms, would publicly state that she had “no personal involvement” in the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars on a failed student assessment program. Even more distressing is the apparent willingness to distort facts by painting school districts in a negative light all in a failed effort to avoid the political consequences associated with the inability to carry out the duties of the Office of State Superintendent. The future of Oklahoma’s students is far too important to trust to politicians like that.
Despite these setbacks, CCOSA and USSA members will continue to partner with Oklahoma parents, educators, school board members and legislators in an effort to provide Oklahoma’s students with the leadership and quality education they deserve.