Home > Uncategorized > Calling on the Hotline (in Disco Pants)

Calling on the Hotline (in Disco Pants)

May 6, 2014

All across Oklahoma, schools are approaching Friday with tremendous anticipation. With third grade retention looming, and CTB set to release scores by May 9th, the SDE is now offering a new service.

Oklahoma State Department of Education offers Reading Hotlines

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 6, 2014) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) will soon establish telephone hotlines for educators and parents who have questions about the third-grade promotion portion of the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA).

OSDE literacy staff and REAC3H Coaches will answer questions and concerns, provide support for electronic submission of reports and help with communication for parents and citizens.

The RSA Hotlines will be active from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Monday, May 12, through Friday, May 23. 

Parents and community members can call (405) 521-3774 to leave comments or questions. The line will be monitored, with responses provided in a timely fashion.

District personnel who have questions should call (405) 521-3301, the main OSDE helpdesk line. Questions will be answered or calls routed to appropriate staff.

School districts statewide will receive third-grade reading test scores from testing vendor CTB/McGraw Hill by Friday. Only third-graders who score Unsatisfactory on the test and don’t meet one of the state’s good-cause exemptions will be retained.

Students who score Unsatisfactory will be able to take an alternate assessment or a teacher may provide a portfolio of the child’s work to demonstrate that he or she reads at appropriate grade level.

For a full list of good-cause exemptions and more information about third-grade promotion, visit thirdgradereading.ok.gov.

The first thing I notice is that the SDE insists on calling it anything but a retention policy. I’ve heard people who work there call it third grade graduation Here they call it promotion. Students, parents, and teachers aren’t worried about promotion. They’re worried about retention.

For two weeks, the SDE is going to have REACH coaches providing hotline support. All 60 of them? How many phone calls do they anticipate? Will the first call be to complain that CTB’s data site is down and that schools can’t access the scores?

I also think it’s interesting that there are different numbers to call for school personnel and non-school personnel. I wonder what would happen if someone called the hotline  …

…wait a second. I can’t continue without providing you with this classic 70s earworm from the Sylvers…

Now I’m picturing all the REACH coaches dancing disco-style like the band in that video. And yes, calling that song a classic is a bit of a stretch. Then again, so is providing Q & A support during the last two weeks of the school year (the last week in some places) for the third grade retention law. Where was this outreach to parents during the school year?

Back to the question I began to pose before the musical detour: I wonder what would happen if someone called each hotline with the same question. Would we get the same answer? And what questions should we ask when Oklahoma parents, educators, and community members flood the phones? Please share your ideas in the comments.

  1. Kelli
    May 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    REAC3H Coaches have signed up to take different shifts during the two week period.

    In speaking for myself, I feel I have been available all year long to administrators, teachers and parents. I have done several RSA Parent meetings at the request of my districts.

    If you really want to see the coaches doing disco dancing, I may be able to talk a few into lip-syncing your song choice. 🙂


    • May 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      I’d be on board with that. And for the record, I’m not questioning the work of the REACH coaches. I know several who are outstanding. I’m glad you’re all working in shifts, too. I was picturing a call center like the credit cards have.


  2. Kelli
    May 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    It is hard to anticipate how many calls will be received. My districts have told me they will probably just call me directly if they have questions instead of calling the hotline.


    • May 6, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      I think the biggest variable there is CTB. There’s too much riding on this for them to screw this up. There’s also too much history of them screwing things up.


  3. Rob miller
    May 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I loved the trip down memory lane. I actually remembered this song somehow. At least these songs were harmless and not full of vulgar language and violence!

    My question for the SDE would be this: Can you please share the results of at least one peer-reviewed, longitudinal academic study that substantiates the value of third grade retention over time?

    Or maybe this: Why does the SDE continue to ignore academic research which concludes that grade retention significantly increases drop out rates and, furthermore, that initial reading gains level out after three to five years?

    This from a 2005 Duke University study:

    “In the past century, educational professionals and policymakers have continued to debate whether grade retention or social promotion should be used as an intervention strategy to bring under-achieving students up to standard. The most recent trend clearly favors the use of retention in an attempt to maintain high academic standards and educational accountability. However, a careful investigation of this policy’s effects and costs suggests that it is ineffective and expensive. Policymakers and educational professionals should move beyond retention and social promotion by developing and adopting alternative intervention strategies proven as successful and cost-effective.

    An overwhelmingly large body of studies have consistently demonstrated negative academic effects of retention. Contrary to popular belief, researchers have almost unanimously found that early retention during kindergarten to grade three is harmful, both academically and emotionally.

    Research has consistently found that retained students are at a higher risk of leaving school earlier, even after controlling for academic performance and other factors such as race and ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, family background, etc. Grade retention has been shown to increase the risk of dropping out by 20% to 50%.”

    Finally, I might ask why we are testing third graders for reading using an language arts test. Half of the test items are not related to reading comprehension or fluency, but instead ask a student things like “what is an almanac used for?”


  4. joeddins
    May 6, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Does the Governor, through the Commission for Educational Quality & Accountability, control the cut score, for this (and all other) test ?


    • May 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      My understanding is that this is correct.


      • joeddins
        May 6, 2014 at 6:53 pm

        It seems there is no big deal for test questions, the big deal is the cut score ? maybe ?


  5. Corey Holland
    May 6, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    It’s all about political narrative. There is a very competitive primary coming in June. Here’s what I anticipate hearing from Baressi in the very near future, “For months we’ve heard nothing but complaints from school administrators who refuse to move past the status quo. All our office has heard is whining & complaints from the very people charged with teaching our students to read. They have consistently stated that parents are angry, upset, and do not support RSA. Over the last few weeks, the SDE has made a hotline available to partner with schools in addressing school administrators concerns and what we believed to possibly be many parents concerns. Today I am hear to let you know that we have received very few calls from concerned parents. In fact, most just had basic questions about the new law. This only proves what we’ve been saying all along. Parents support RSA but the liberal, union loving administrators stuck in the old good ole boy status quo, do not. Yadda yadda yadda…..”
    It’s political theater in my opinion. I hope I’m wrong.


    • Brandi
      May 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Am I reading correctly that ELL students who began school prior to 2nd grade are required to take and pass the test? Good grief, that’s quite a cognitive load to place on a child. Not only do they have to learn the same material as their English-speaking peers, but they also have to adjust to a new language, culture, and customs. The rules seem so unforgiving. It doesn’t matter that they are making progress, they have to be on par with native speakers. If it were simply a reading comprehension test, maybe that would be more fair. But to throw in other language arts factors is just cruel to those kids.


  1. June 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm
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