Oklahoma Schools Near the Bottom

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Sadly, according to Education Week’s “Quality Counts” report card released today, Oklahoma’s education system ranks 48th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in quality of education. Our letter grade was a D+. States ranking lower than us were New Mexico, Nevada and Mississippi.

Oklahoma’s “chance-for-success” index, which measures the impact that education (or the lack thereof) has on people, was low as well. We ranked 43rd. No surprise there. If we are not supporting and investing in education, we can’t expect to have successful citizens.

If you’re interested to know the top state, it was Massachusetts.

OK, so the information is there and it looks pretty bleak for our state. My fear is that Oklahoma policy-makers will use this report as a rhetorical sledge hammer to shove more money into high-stakes standardized tests, more data mining just for the sake of gathering data, and more shifting of funds to charter schools without investing any more dollars in public education. According to Quality Counts, Oklahoma was 45th in per-pupil expenditures.

I wish our lawmakers would listen to teachers such as Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones, the two Skelly Elementary teachers who showed the common sense, professionalism and the courage to stand up to say that all the mandated high-stakes tests were not only eating away at valuable instruction time, but actually harming their students. Here is their letter to parents. 

Today (in between stories and pictures of Garth Brooks), the Tulsa World reported that the CEO of the company (Tripod Education Partners) that created the student surveys that Karen Hendren and Nikki Jones found particularly objectionable spoke to a TPS task force of 20 teachers and two administrators. The task force is studying the use of the surveys with children in second grade and younger. Many teachers besides Hendren and Jones found the surveys to be developmentally inappropriate for young children.

Maybe it’s just me, but I found this quote from CEO Rob Ramsdell particularly objectionable. He is quoted in the article as saying; “The only way to provide educators with real, valuable feedback is to gather it from multiple sources multiple times over multiple years. If we learn more about our students’ experiences, it can help us improve as educators.”

Hendren and Jones have a very good handle on each one of their young students. I would bet they know a lot more about each child’s family than the Tripod test could tell them. I’m sure they know about each child’s strengths and weaknesses academically, but I’m also sure they can identify each child’s unusual quirks, emotional strengths and weaknesses and learning styles. Good classroom teachers know this and don’t need a survey filled out by a 5-year-old to tell them.

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Living the empty nest life, and loving it.

About This Blog

Betty Casey has been editor of TulsaKids for over 20 years – her youngest child was 3-years-old when she started working for the magazine. She and her husband Wes have three young adult children. Betty’s blog ranges from writing about current issues or information of interest to local parents, reflecting on her life without kids at home, and posting a few recipes now and then. (Cooking and running are two or her favorite past-times.) Betty is the author/illustrator of three children’s books, "May Finds Her Way," "That is a Hat" and "The Prince of the Prairie" (The RoadRunner Press). She was named Blogger of the Year in 2014 by The Great Plains Journalism Awards, was a finalist in 2015 and won again in 2016. Most recently, she was named the 2017 News Blogger of the Year. She has also won numerous writing awards from the Parenting Media Association.

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