Superintendent Hofmeister and High-Stakes Testing
Many Oklahoma citizens felt that their voices weren’t being heard by former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, so voters showed her the door. It appears that Supt. Hofmeister has listened to parents and educators who have seen what a focus on high-stakes testing is doing to children in the classroom – taking away valuable instruction time, diverting dollars to testing companies and pushing educators to teach to a test that may not be an accurate or appropriate assessment.
According to information provided by the State Department of Education today, two bills, Senate Bill 707, by state Sen. John Ford, and House Bill 1272, Rep. Dennis Casey, “direct the State Board of Education to develop recommendations for high school graduation requirements, one or more assessments that colleges and universities utilize to determine college-readiness.”
In the press release, Hofmeister said, “These bills help clear the path for use of an assessment that has meaningful value beyond high school. In reducing seven tests to a single, research-based measure, Oklahoma students would experience an increase in classroom instruction and a reduction of time spent testing. This change could also save millions of taxpayer dollars on testing. This savings of time and resources could be redirected for support of higher student achievement.”
These bills appear to provide a path to more reasonable assessments for high school graduation in a way that supports educators in providing students with the skills they need beyond high school.
I’m hopeful that Oklahoma policy-makers are beginning to see that simply mandating more and more standardized tests in the schools does not improve outcomes. If only the solution were that simple. With limited resources, it’s important to look for the best ways to provide a rigorous education for Oklahoma students, and it appears that under the direction of Supt. Hofmeister, the Legislature is focusing on doing that.