Home > Uncategorized > What a Terrifically Bad Idea

What a Terrifically Bad Idea

March 13, 2014

This is an early Christmas for bloggers. Unless you’re one of the many who gave up social media for Lent, you probably know by now that Rob Miller dropped some incredible news last night. The Oklahoma State Department of Education instructed Measured Progress to exclude Jenks and Owasso from field testing item tryouts this spring. If you haven’t read it, go do that now. I’ll wait for you. If for some reason, you’re continuing to read my blog without looking at Rob’s, here’s a blurb:

Honestly, it was a pleasant surprise when we found out last week that students and schools in the Jenks district were NOT randomly selected to participate in ANY of these field tests. However, when we discovered that Owasso Public Schools had also not been “randomly selected,” several of us became a little suspicious. As you may have heard, some parents and educators in Owasso made some waves recently because of their vocal opposition to implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in their district. Therefore, this news was way too coincidental for random chance.

So, I took it upon myself to make a few inquiries by phone and email. It did not take long to discover that we and Owasso were unique and that every other district in our area had been selected for this field testing.

A conversation yesterday with an executive at the headquarters of Measured Progress revealed what I suspected. Measured Progress was given specific instructions by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to draw their testing sample from all districts in Oklahoma, with the exception of two school districts: Jenks and Owasso. This information has been confirmed separately through sources at the state department. It certainly appears that “someone” at the SDE knowingly excluded these two districts to avoid negative publicly associated with a possible parent opt-out this spring.

My head is spinning!

Measured Progress admits that the SDE told them to exclude two districts because they have outspoken patrons. How in the hell did they expect to get away with this and not have backlash?

This action undermines everything that field testing is supposed to accomplish. Aside from that, it serves as encouragement to districts whose patrons want to defy the SDE.

The blame for this decision falls entirely on Superintendent Barresi. This isn’t like last year when she explained that she had taken no part in choosing the testing company that miserably failed in two states. This was planned and approved at the highest of levels. I honestly don’t think she can’t loan her campaign enough money to get out of this hole.

Once again, we see the arrogance of Barresi and her administration fully exposed. This action is unethical. While admitting the motivation behind it is at least honest, they really thought there would be no consequences.

Since Rob posted this story to his blog last night, it has gone viral. I told him that he would break WordPress. Last night, when I refreshed the story about an hour after it posted, the site was down. It happened this morning too. Thousands of shares later on Facebook and Twitter, it’s hard to really calculate the reach of the post. I’m sure it will reach pretty much every teacher and administrator’s inbox in the state. There will be questions from the media and from lawmakers. Speaking of which, I haven’t seen a flood of supporters stand behind Barresi lately. This won’t help.

On an unrelated note, the SDE is excited to announce that Vision 2020 Round Three is coming up in August. Based on the current news, I have a few suggestions for breakout session titles:

  • Parent power: You have the power to tell the SDE to stick it!
  • STEMming the tide of Opt Outs!
  • Redefining “statistically significant” and “randomly chosen”
  • Field testing: how to take your ball and go home
  • You can’t opt out; I’ll opt you out!
  • Words hurt, Rob.
  • Blogging for change (roundtable session)
  • How to clean out your office in six months

I’d go to that last one. It sounds fun.

  1. joeddins
    March 13, 2014 at 7:31 am

    At some point school leaders must devise a plan to keep from losing the trust they have in their communities.Once this trust is lost it may take several years to pass a bond issues. Thank you for your help in educating those of us who follow your messages.


    • March 13, 2014 at 8:01 am

      You’re very welcome. I think parents are probably more informed right now than they ever have been about how the state treats schools.


      • joeddins
        March 13, 2014 at 9:04 am

        How do we get this information in central ok newspapers? How do we get candidates for State Supt involved? They are going to administer the same bad laws ?I look to you for even more leadership. Shakespear said something about acting when the tide is right. I suspect the tide is right


  2. March 13, 2014 at 10:50 am

    My school was “randomly” selected for 13 different program audits year before last, 7 last year and 6 so far this year. We have also been selected to do the field testing EVERY year. Keep in mind the results of all these audits have been favorable and that we have always been “Accredited With No Deficiencies.”

    People ARE catching on, but we still need to not only share exactly what schools are experiencing and how it is negatively impacting our students and our profession, we also need to put a PR plan in place to share all that is positive about schools, teachers and students. I am prepared to do that!

    Thank you for continuing to spread the word about the tactics of the current administration.


    • joeddins
      March 13, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Do you support the Common Core tests and the consequences of those tests?


      • March 15, 2014 at 11:02 am


        No I don’t. The Common Core is a all over the place and is a mess. I am not opposed to standards, We have always had national standards. I am opposed to the fact CC standards weren’t properly vetted by oklahoma educators and educational curriculum specialists. As we know, that was by design of those outside of Oklahoma with an agenda to shape education policy throughout the US. CC was poorly introduced and poorly implemented.

        Whatever happened to including educators in the design of standards and then piloting before implementing? What happened to the scientific method in decision making?

        In my 43 years in education, I have never seen the anxiety I am seeing among students and teachers, not only in my school, but in schools around the state. I have never heard of so many young children on medication for school-related anxiety and of so many good teachers leaving the profession.

        One has to ask if CC and high stakes testing are really worth it.

        There is more to discovering if a child understands subtraction than a few questions that reflect their knowledge of the CC “way” of subtracting.

        As a teacher I wanted to know what my students knew when they started my classes in the fall. The previous year’s “achievement” test was just a start. Like other teachers, I learned what they knew through their daily work, monitoring their work in the classroom and asking questions of relevance to check for understanding. Students knew the teacher would take several things into consideration when determining their understanding of a concept.

        Our children, our teachers and our communities deserve better than the “Ready? Fire! Aim!” approach of the current administration.


    • AM Little
      March 14, 2014 at 12:51 am

      But Freda Deskin, you are pro common core standards correct?


  3. Rob miller
    March 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I wonder if I can now publicly promote parent opt outs of field tests since none of my students will be included this year. I don’t think the state testing laws address this. I also believe the time is right. Thanks for your leadership and example for all of us!


  4. joeddins
    March 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Freda Deskin, do you support Achieving Classroom Excellence ?


    • March 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm


      ACE is just another part of the ALEC movement as far as I can see. Obviously we all want excellence. We disagree on how to achieve it (I could write quite a bit about this, but in the interest of time, won’t).

      ACE is another punishment tool that doesn’t benefit our students. I believe the current ACE mandate is a detriment to our state and country. It will put more students on the streets and out of school and far fewer into career tech or college.

      I have often wondered how many of my friends, colleagues and even fellow Rotarians would be where they are today if ACE was in place when they were in high school.

      ACE is another “one-size-fits-all” attempt.


  5. Julieann Simms
    March 15, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Have you guys ever remembered your school days? My mom (a retired teacher) had three recesses per day. I (current teacher) had three recesses per day. Both my mom and I were part of a public education system NOT fixated on testing data; pencils actually held lead and would sharpen. Parents by and large held their own children accountable for their academic progress. Parents supported teacher-established rules and behavior. Until this state and country re-adopts student accountability, no test, curriculum (I.e. interventions) will be successful.


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