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Originally posted June 4, 2012
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an endorsement.)
OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed emergency rules to govern an appeals process for students who were denied a high school diploma because they didn't pass four of seven end-of-instruction tests.
Earlier in the year, Fallin signed House Bill 2970 that established the appeals process with the State Board of Education.
"The rules I signed today broaden the extenuating circumstances for those who weren't able to pass all of the end-of-instruction exams," Fallin said.
The appeals process provides a way for a student to apply for exemption from the requirements, she said.
"But I will say that I think it is very important that a high school diploma mean something," Fallin said.
A high number of high school graduates entering college need remediation, the governor said.
According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, 35.7 percent of first-time freshmen coming directly from high school in the fall of 2010 enrolled in remedial courses. The previous year's figure was 36.5 percent, according the agency.
"That is totally unacceptable," Fallin said. "That is way too high."
It means students aren't prepared to enter the work force or college, she said.
As a result, it is taking longer than four years for a student to graduate from college. One reason for that, Fallin said, is because students are taking college remediation courses that first year that don't count toward their degrees.
Remediation adds to the costs incurred by universities, students and parents, the governor said.
According to the State Regents, an average of 4.7 years is needed to obtain a bachelor's degree from either the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University.
It takes 5 years on average to obtain a bachelor's from the other four-year universities.
"I still stand behind the academic requirements of being able to pass tests, being able to have a diploma that means something and have high standards," Fallin said.
The rules will expire in July 2013, said Alex Weintz, a Fallin spokesman. In the interim, the State Department of Education may try to craft permanent rules that are similar in substance to the emergency rules, he said.
Under the rules, a student has 30 days from the denial of a diploma to appeal. The State Board of Education is to take action on the appeal no later than 45 days after it receives the appeal.
A student who has been accepted "into a selective college or university as defined by the Carnegie of Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching" is one of the extenuating circumstances.
According to the State Department of Education, the colleges and universities are Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma City University, Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, University of Oklahoma in Norman, University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha and the University of Tulsa. Tulsa Community College is not on the list.
First appeals Tuesday
The State Board of Education will consider its first wave of appeals at a special meeting Tuesday in Oklahoma City.
About 24 appeals are on the consent agenda and board members may pull individual cases from the docket for further discussion, said Damon Gardenhire, spokesman for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
A quarter of the cases on the agenda no longer need to appeal because they have demonstrated mastery. But they remain on the consent docket because of the requirements of the appeals process spelled out in the emergency rules the board approved last month, Gardenhire said.