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Originally posted June 14, 2012
BY World's Editorials Writers
(Reprinted with Permission. This is not an an endorsement.)
Three local school boards - Union, Jenks and Sand Springs - have adopted resolutions calling on state and local officials to come up with a method of assessing, or grading, schools that is not based almost exclusively on standardized test scores.
State education officials and state and federal lawmakers ought to pay close attention to these local educators and parents who are on the front lines of the school-quality issue.
The local school boards are among a growing number of others nationwide that are attempting to slow the proliferation of standardized tests in the public schools. The tests, critics say, are costly, shifting millions of dollars away from the classroom and into the pockets of test vendors. Further, test-score-only evaluations are unreliable, punitive and ignore key facets of a quality education, such as critical thinking skills and ability to learn.
Of particular concern to many educators and parents is so-called "high-stakes testing," which refers to using students' standardized test scores as the sole determination for grade promotion or graduation.
Oklahoma's Achieving Classroom Excellence, or ACE, testing program mandates that beginning with this year's seniors, students who do not pass four of seven end-of-instruction tests do not receive their high school diplomas.
That requirement put about 2,000 seniors statewide into an education Neverland. Despite the fact that they attended 12 years of school and passed their classes, they have no diploma to show for it. For many, that means no opportunity to attend college, join the military or even get a job.
Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, third-graders will have to pass a reading test before they can move on to fourth grade.
There are problems with these testing programs, not the least of which is that the Legislature and state education department have eliminated or drastically cut promised funds to provide remedial help to at-risk students.
Lawmakers and the state education bureaucracy should listen to the real experts on school quality - the local parents, teachers, principals and school board members who deal with it directly every day: Rethink school evaluation.