Monday, September 1, 2014

Waiver Revealed

Sunday night on twitter was a great discussion regarding the loss of Oklahoma’s NCLB waiver. The frustrating thing for me is all the misinformation that continues to surround this critical time in education.  Here is a no nonsense explanation of what happened, what it means, and what is next for Oklahoma Public Schools.

What Happened

According to a letter sent from Assistant Education Secretary Deborah Delisle, Oklahoma could no longer meet the pre-requisites needed to qualify for a No Child Left Behind waiver. In her letter, she stated all states must commit to “adopted college- and career-ready standards in at least reading/language arts and mathematics for kindergarten through grade 12 at the time of its request, and to have implemented those standards no later than the 2013- 2014 school year”.

My Take – If you remember, Oklahoma rushed to adopt Common Core State Standards and its assessment component PARCC to meet the college and career component of the waiver. If you go back and look at the original 2011 waiver, you will notice on page 14 the very first principle of the waiver was college and career readiness standards. Oklahoma leapt at the chance to get out from under the unrealistic AYP benchmarks required by a NCLB that hadn’t been reauthorized in 2007 and was severely out of date.

·         HB 3399 repealed CCSS in reading and math making PASS our state standards.
·         Regents of Higher Education have not certified PASS as College & Career ready.
·         No CCSS and no other College & Career standards meant no more waiver

What’s Next

Oklahoma will be required to follow the guidelines of the NCLB legislation and not the policies put in place by OKSDE, the Governor, and our legislators. Oklahoma must calculate an index score for each school and compare the index to the benchmark set by NCLB. Furthermore, the state must calculate Annual Measureable Objectives (AMO’s) for each school. Schools not meeting or exceeding the benchmark or meeting its AMO’s must be designated a school in “Needs Improvement, Corrective Action, or Restructuring” based on the number of years the school has not met the benchmark since 2011—2012.

                My Take – The interesting thing here is how our state leaders will react to this. The way I read the letter and accompanying documents from Deborah Delisle, the federal requirements of NCLB have to be implemented “no later than” the 2015-2016 school year. Does this mean the timeline of the NCLB requirements will be left to the discretion of the OKSDE? Will the SDE wait until next year or will they take this opportunity to implement now?  Immediate implementation will cause irrevocable harm to schools. Some leaders even question the legality of the USDE to deny the waiver based on standards. My take is the SDE can implement NCLB at the beginning of the 15-16 school year which would give schools the time they need to make adjustments, give the Higher Regents time to review our standards, give the state of Oklahoma time to re-write college and career standards, and the new State Supt. Of Public Instruction time to request a new waiver.  Want to bet it doesn’t happen that way?

What it Means

The OKSDE must relinquish control over how schools meet the requirements of NCLB. This means schools will have a performance calculation in every subgroup where more than 30 students are tested in reading or math. AMOs will be calculated, and the schools will be labeled as “needs improvement, corrective action, or restructuring”.  In other words, schools will be given a post mortem label for every year since 2011.  The loss of the waiver means schools will also get an AYP determination and an A-F grade.  A-F is state law, but AYP is federal accountability. 

                My Take – The real question is how the OKSDE interprets the letter from the USDE. The way I read it, it appears the OKSDE can use discretion in several components of re-implementation of NCLB. First, no money will be lost this year, nor will any set aside be required by the feds. Second, supplemental services and public school choice isn’t required until 2015-2016.  Most importantly, in my opinion, school designations should move forward only 1 year based on 2011-2012 status. In other words, if a school was in year 1 in 2011-2012, they could only be in year 2 for 14-15.  Even the Obama administration understands you can’t fast forward 3 years when you were under a different set of rules. However, this all depends on how the Barresi administration handles it from here on out. Technically, she could implement all the aspects of NCLB right now. She would require 20% of Title 1 money to be set aside for public choice and supplemental services. This could force schools to lay off teachers and teacher’s aides. She could fast forward schools not meeting AYP to the maximum level of designation. For some schools, it could require teachers to be fired. It could mean administrators and board members to be removed.  Worse, some schools could move from never have been on the list to year 3 and not even had the chance to address issues masked by the A-F grading system.  Remember all those flaws OU and OSU researchers told us about? They could possibly come to fruition.  You think JB has a vendetta against public schools? We are about to find out. You think the reformers want to KILL public education in this state? The potential is there, and they get political cover because the reformers will blame the Obama administration. Only time will tell.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

No Waiver, No Standards, Big Problem

DENIED!, said Arne Duncan to Janet Barresi and her request for a 1 year extension to Oklahoma’s ESEA waiver. Immediately our state’s elected officials started doing what they do best: blaming someone else. Everyone except Representative Jason Nelson; he calmly looked the reporter in the eyes and proclaimed Obama’s administration’s egregious action was “no big deal”. At first glance, the loss of the waiver is not that big of a deal.  No loss of federal money for 2014-2015 and the Feds gave Oklahoma until “no later than” 2015-2016 to require schools re-implement supplemental educational services and school choice.

If the waiver only dealt with money and school choice, Jason Nelson would be correct.  However, the gist of NCLB was accountability and therefore the biggest portion of our waiver was flexibility in Oklahoma’s accountability. According to the letter made public by Shawn Hime and the OSSBA Oklahoma is to immediately resume the determination of schools that are in “Needs Improvement, Corrective Action, and Restructuring”.  

What does this mean? According to NCLB, schools must meet Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and math in several student subgroups.  If ANY subgroup fails to meet AYP for 2 consecutive years the school is placed in “Needs Improvememt”. Fail again, the school moves to year 2 of Needs Improvement. Fail again it is on to Corrective Action, then onto Restructuring. Corrective action is the firing of teaching staff, extended school year, and new curriculum.  Basically, it is state takeover.  So the automatic firing of teachers, the forcing of schools to change their school year and their curriculum when they were not even AWARE there was an issue is NOT a big deal?

While it has major ramifications to those in education, it is also a big deal to the “public schools are failing” reform crowd. Here are some of the reasons why Janet Barresi and Gov. Mary Fallin are pointing fingers and shouting out accusations:

·         The waiver gave the state the flexibility to meet the accountability piece of the ESEA legislation. Which means the reformers in power decided what schools had to do to be compliant not the Feds. Loss of the waiver actually means loss of their reform platform.
·         Every school is going to get the old API/AYP calculation sheet for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  I wonder how the reformers’ beloved A-F calculation will stack up against the AYP calculations?
·         I’m betting there are at least 50% of the A schools who will be placed on the “Needs Improvement” list because of A-F’s inability to desegregate the data of the individual student subgroups. I’m also going to predict there are multiple schools listed as “Targeted Intervention” because of the A-F grade that will meet “Safe Harbor” and therefore not be labeled as “Needs Improvement” All this will be a major body blow to public school reformers and their coveted A-F grading system.
·         Of course the Reagents of Higher ED wouldn’t certify PASS standards as College and Career Ready. If PASS standards are subpar then PASS can be the patsy for the increased remediation rates of incoming college freshman. Higher ED can’t blame teachers as almost every teacher graduated from one of their prestigious Universities. Also, Higher ED can’t say their business plan benefits from freshman taking zero level courses. Furthermore, Higher ED can’t say since the implementation of OHLAP, they are experiencing record number of enrollments which pads the books if those students go 5 years instead of 4 which is a main reason why some students are guided to remediation classes. Don’t believe me; look at how many buildings have been added to each campus since the passage of OHLAP.

So the loss of the waiver is a big deal to Oklahoma’s public schools. Elected officials yelling and screaming with a reform agenda can make public schools jump through unnecessary hoops, and then blame the Obama administration.  Pay attention folks, if any changes are required in 2014-2015 to meet NCLB, then it will be at Janet’s and Gov. Fallin’s discretion and no one else’s. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

800 pound Gorilla

There is an 800 pound Gorilla in the room. It is big, ugly, and wrecking havoc on our children’s education.  Yes, I’m talking about the 800 or so classrooms with children ready to learn but no teacher available to teach them. Why are we 800 teachers short? - many, many reasons. For some it may be about pay… for others it may be about testing. Climate, culture, autonomy?, valid reasons all around. Large class sizes, unfair accountability measures, evaluations based on factors outside the teacher’s control? - understandable. Russian roulette with educational standards is certainly a reason to seek employment elsewhere. A philosophical difference with principals and superintendents has to be considered a reason to find another profession. Narcissistic students and unreasonable parents or derogatory Facebook comments or politicians who belittle our craft or newspaper articles who blame us for all of society’s ills are all contributing to the growth of the 800 pound Gorilla. If we don’t stop feeding the beast, how big will it be next year?

Let me be blunt: We have some really bad administrators and some really bad teachers who shouldn’t be able to get a job. Yep, call me names if you want, but you know I’m right. We can all think of a teacher or administrator who shouldn’t be a teacher or administrator. Hell, the only reason the really bad educators are able to keep getting hired is because there is no one else out there keeping the bad ones from getting a job. This is embarrassing. Bad teachers are being recycled because schools have no other choice. How awesome would our schools be if there was an applicant pool of 5 qualified candidates for every job! How great would it be for parents to know their child had the best, not the best available? For this dream to become reality teacher pay has to rival other professions.  The best and brightest high school seniors should seek to become educators just like they seek to become engineers, physical therapists, dental hygienists, or advertising/marketing executives.  We should have stringent standards, so only the very best effective teachers keep their job because the job pool is so saturated.  We should have petroleum engineers leave the oil field to become science teachers, not science teachers leave for the oil field.

I personally know 1 outstanding superintendent, 2 principals, and dozens of teachers who left the profession this year. They left for jobs that paid better, or they just retired because they didn’t HAVE to put up with a system which they felt treated them like dung.  None of them left for other states. However, I offered a job to several elementary certified entry year teachers who told me they were taking jobs out of state. Just out of curiosity, I asked and found out almost all of them went to college with OHLAP! I am not aware of any HS seniors who stated they were going to college to become a teacher.  So our problem is multifaceted. We don’t have enough college students choosing education as a career, and we are losing our current allotment of teachers through mass defections to retirement or career change.  Do we really expect the very best and brightest our state has to offer to choose education as a career when many of the graduates have to work 2 jobs to earn a living wage? I was talking to a great young sophomore English teacher from US Grant HS who cleans swimming pools afterschool and on weekends to supplement his income, so he can support his family.

Seriously, I don’t care what anyone else says, teacher shortage is the number 1 problem facing public education today. Oklahoma Education is in crisis mode. 911 has been dialed and 600,000 students are waiting for their call to be answered. If we want to solve this crisis we should be taking a 2 pronged approach: we have to create a working environment worthy of the best and a working salary good enough to rival other professional careers.  Only then will class sizes, accountability measures, derogatory opinion articles, and philosophical differences be reasons for the weakest of us to get out of the profession and not the reason for the best of us.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Just the facts, Ma'am.

Just the facts “Ma’am”.  Famous words from Dragnet Detective Joe Friday. I don’t know if the numbers expressed in the DOK opinion piece this Sunday are accurate or not, but I want to talk about the numbers they seemed to ignore.  I know several of my good friends and people who I look to for advice are about to cringe because they have repeatedly asked me not to twist off on the DOK and do a rebuttal blog. However, as I’ve been told more than once in my career – “Jason, you have the right to remain silent but not the ability”.

The numbers as reported by the DOK article this Sunday:

·         998 3rd graders “failed” the 3rd grade reading OCCT
·         342 of 998 meet exemptions in place before the Grade Placement Committee
o   67 were students who had disabilities
o   67 were students who qualified as ESL with less than 2 years of English instruction
o   79 scored high enough on an alternative test
o   118 were on an IEP and had previously been retained
o   10 students were not on an IEP but had already been retained twice

The DOK claims these numbers as evidence of “substantial” exemptions already in place within the law and uses these numbers as a philosophical bat to beat up Oklahoma lawmakers who value the wisdom of local control and parental involvement. Obviously, the DOK editorial board has a bone to pick with the new RSA law. I don’t think I’ll ever know why, but I’d love to sit down and just have a conversation with them about it. They are still drinking the Kool-aid being handed out by those with a highly skewed view of Child Literacy reform.

Let me give you my take on the EXACT SAME numbers the DOK uses.

  •          998 3rd graders “failed” the 3rd grade reading OCCT – The only thing the DOK and I agree on – 998 is too high.
  •          342 is only 34% of the total “failing” students – hardly “substantial” in my opinion of the effectiveness of previous exemptions. 

o   67 students who had disabilities – These are students who took the OAAP test; students who have such profound disabilities they are not subject to the same academic standards. Why does the state force these students to test?
o   67 students who qualified as ESL – research shows the average language acquisition time to understand the English language on a student’s grade level is 7 years. This fact keeps being lost on RSA reformers. They act like this exemption is a good thing. Try telling that to a student who moved to the “land of the free” when they are 16 and can’t pass the Eng. 2 EOI and therefore won’t graduate.
o   118 were on an IEP and had previously been retained. WHAT?  You mean to tell me there were 118 students who had already been RETAINED once and they failed the test? I thought retention was the answer to the child’s reading problems? Retention didn’t work for these 118 students. Now they are 1 or 2 years older than their classmates and according to the reformers still 2 grade levels behind in reading. (I don’t agree with the previous statement; being two levels behind is possible, but you’d have to give some reading diagnostic to be certain and not use an ELA test for comparison)
o   10 students are not on an IEP but have retained twice. This is just tragic. Some research shows over 80% of students who have been retained twice become HS dropouts.

The DOK looks at the numbers and tries to explain how the old RSA law could have worked. They point to their number of 342 students who met exemptions and say “see, the law is working”.  I look at the 656 students who are being forced to repeat 3rd grade, and find it tragic because the adults in their lives failed them. The DOK thinks this blame should be placed solely on the backs of teachers who work at public schools. I think there is plenty of blame to go around. Parents who lack parenting skills are to blame. An economy where parents have to work 2 jobs just to feed their children is to blame.  Ineffective teachers and ineffective school administrators are to blame. An argument could be made to blame policymakers and politicians. However, any argument among the adults as to who is to blame for childhood illiteracy is a complete waste of time. A child who can’t read has been failed not by just someone but by everyone! However, the DOK just wants to blame teachers. But they are just wrong.  

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Educational Leadership Condundrum

Lately I haven’t been sleeping too well. To be more accurate, I haven’t been staying asleep too well.  Falling asleep isn’t my problem; staying asleep has been.  For the past couple of months, I have been getting less and less sleep, and I think I know why. My brain is in a constant state of flux; an internal struggle is waging in the educational lobe of my brain. I fall asleep because I am tired; I don’t stay asleep because I’m afraid I know who’s starting to win the war- and my heart doesn’t like it. The struggle is this - Do I do what my professional training knows what is best for the whole child, or do I play by the rules set up by the political winds of the educational game? I find the differences between the two to be growing. Thus, I don’t sleep very well anymore.

The rules of game simply state students and schools are judged by onetime events. You see, the political powers that be have defined academic success as passing a test or passing a series of tests to graduate high school. For the student, it all boils down to a test. For the school, it all depends on testing - averaging the sum total of the tests given. It doesn’t matter that some students are homeless or abused or hungry or scared. It doesn’t matter that schools are facing teacher shortages, outdated textbooks, ancient buildings, rising costs, and declining per pupil revenues. The game refuses to take into consideration poverty and parental involvement; the two things research has shown to have a significant impact on learning. The game simply states students are only successful if they pass the test, and a school is only successful if 90% of the students pass the test at a time arbitrarily set by the politicians.

My professional training tells me something else. Learning is not time dependent - I wholeheartedly believe learning is an individual process without an expiration date. For some, the concept can be learned quickly without effort. For others, the concept doesn’t come as quickly, or it comes with a great deal of effort. My professional training tells me some students can find English Literature fascinating while Geometry is a waste of time. Some students argue with logic while others use emotion. My professional training tells me students from broken homes or from abject poverty or from situations of abuse and neglect need more from their teachers than test prep. My professional training tells me to love the child, give them an early foundation, and later expose them to things to foster interest and cause them to think and explore and expand the world around them.

I know brain based learning; I know the brain takes new concepts and builds upon previous knowledge. In other words, do children need to know math facts like double digit multiplication before they can do Algebra? No, doing Algebra is a behavior that can be taught just like a mouse can be taught to run through a maze. However, a student must know their math facts before they UNDERSTAND Algebra. There is a difference.  Do students need to know dystopia before they comprehend the utopian world of books like The Giver? No, students can comprehend the meaning of the words, but do the words resonate with them; is the underlying theme relevant to them? There is a difference between giving a book report over the main idea, the characters, and the setting and being moved to emotions of joy, sorrow, and empathy.

So the battle rages on - often times in the wee hours of the morning. Do I play the game to obtain the academic success for students and my school as outlined by the rule makers? Do I cast aside the political definition of academic success and follow what my professional training and my heart knows is the best course for the long term educational well being of the child? I am falling asleep quickly because I’m tired. I’m tired because I am trying to accomplish both tasks at the same time. This is the conundrum of educational leadership, and it’s exhausting.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Brave New World: Testing or Thinking?

An argument against High Stakes Testing Accountability:

My argument against high stakes testing accountability is simple; it doesn’t work. To put it more precisely, high stakes testing accountability isn’t increasing student’s ability to put to use the knowledge they are learning.  This is the crux of the problem: the purpose of education. Why do we want our citizens to learn? Is it so that they “know” the answer when confronted with a question? Or is it so they can use their education as a foundation to interpret, analyze, design, and create? Let me put it this way; do we want our children to grow up to be a nation of Jeopardy champions and crossword puzzle experts, or do we want our children to find the cure for Alzheimer’s, compose a symphony, or argue a case before the Supreme Court?  For me personally, I want my daughter to become the 1st female President of the United States. Which brings me to another failure of accountability measures based on high stakes testing; intangible and necessary qualities such as persistence, perseverance, intestinal fortitude, motivation, and leadership can’t be measured. If we want to improve our schools, then we need to move away from the idea that “all kids can learn” and move toward the mantra of “all learners can apply what they know”. Taking a test at the end of the year guarantees learning stays stuck in the “knowledge” arena and not the application mode of education.

The test not only fails to measure what technocrat reformers want it to measure, it has a drastic negative impact on instructional practices. The test changes the goal for both the student and the teacher. The accountability piece incentivizes the prioritization of the false educational goal of test score outcomes. Teachers and students both willingly accept the segmentation of skills and standards as learning outcomes instead of how those newly learned skills and standards can be applied.  Some examples of this negative focus:

  • Deciding to use text passages and multiple choice quizzes instead of novels and Socratic discussions in English Literature or Reading classes because passages and questions are what is on the test.  
  • Taking students out of electives such as Art, Music, etc. so they can take a remediation class so they can take a remediation class so they can pass the state test.
  • Putting off field trips until after April 24th because that is when testing is over.
  • Doing away with World History as a sophomore social studies elective so U.S. History objectives can be taught for 2 years before students have to take the test.

There are many, many more examples of the negative impact caused by the high stakes test and the accountability that comes with it. What I don’t understand is why reformers keep doubling down on high stakes testing. It does not measure the critical thinking and problem solving skills reformers scream is missing from American students. It perpetuates a decline in the application of knowledge everyone thinks is essential to the 21st century. Let us stop the madness of moving in the wrong direction of educating America’s youth.  Let the teachers and the educational experts move from an “all students can learn” to “all learners can apply” model of education. Put the accountability piece where it belongs - with the parents and the local community. Let’s teach our students to think instead of to test.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Random Ramblings about #oklaed

Okay, its been about 6 weeks since my last post. Sorry for the absence, but its been a crazy couple of weeks. I just completed my Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction (FINALLY!) and just changed jobs. I am now the Superintendent of Alex Public Schools. For the record, just as in Clinton, the words on this page reflect my personal views and are not necessarily the views of Alex Public Schools or the Alex Board of Education. 

  • About the Election:  
    • How can you justify voting to re-elect the current State Supt when she doesn't even know how many tests a 5th grader takes? JB's answer was 2; the correct answer is 5 (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies) if you only count OCCT. It is 6 if you include the "item try out" test this year, maybe 7 if you include the required Arts Assessment.  JB went on to say the test only takes about 2 hours. If you look at the test administration manual (you can look at page 4 by clicking here), the suggested multiple choice test times for Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies are 7.5 hours. The Writing test has a suggested time of 90 minutes (you can look on page 4 here).  
    • Talk about Double Talk! Did anyone else notice during the Flash Point debate how JB said she works with educators everyday to seek input into reforms, but then told Kirk Humphreys (who was a little more than biased in my opinion) she wouldn't listen to educators and couldn't work with teachers, principals and superintendents to implement reforms? Which is it? You listen to professionals or your don't? Make up your mind.

    • The Daily Oklahoman ran an article suggesting we give JB another 4 years to get some of the mistakes she made in her first term corrected? You have got to be kidding me. How sad is that.
    • Can you really smear your opponent for not being sensitive to the needs of special needs students after you intentionally released their names and addresses to your campaign AND printed their names, disabilities, and GPA's (illegally I might add) in a State Board of Education meeting agenda? 

    • Next time JB says she works with educators and educational stakeholders, I want somebody to ask for names, places, and dates! I'm betting a vast majority of people she claims to work with are either teachers from the charter schools she helped start, a political policy adviser from FEE or ALEC, or works for a vendor.
  • About Education in General:

    • HB2625 only weakens the RSA law if you have a general distrust in the decision making of educators! 2625 gives local control over the extenuating circumstances of local children. I know at my school we will take the grade placement committee option very seriously. I trust teachers and school personnel to make the best decision possible. Why doesn't our State Supt or our Governor trust teachers? If you trust a teacher to supervise children from August through May, but do not trust them to make educational decisions, then I submit you view teachers as baby sitters and not professional educators.
    • If the AF accountability system is as accurate, valid, and simple as the public has been led to believe, then why did it take 10 versions over several weeks to get a final result? I know my former school's AF grade was incorrect, how many others are wrong? 
    • CCSS vs. PASS vs. C3 vs. OAsS vs CCR, vs OCCRA vs PARCC vs ACT vs ACE vs RSA vs ETC. Seriously, what #oklaed  needs is a acronym department!
    • Testing - I agree with the educational philosophy of 'test less and teach more'. I'm all about data driven decision making, and I fully believe in using diagnostic & formative assessments to drive instruction. There has got to be a middle ground where policy wonks can have the accountability system they desire and teachers can have the testing they need to be better at their jobs.

    • Shouldn't everyone be striving to give children the love of learning?
    • Wouldn't it be nice if teachers were valued like other professionals? Maybe our pay wouldn't be so low that teachers leave the profession to go manage a Wal-mart or drive a truck in the oil field. If you are like me and believe the greatest educational tool ever invented was a teacher, then you must also believe the profession of teaching can't survive on the charity of good Samaritans and those who couldn't do anything else. As Kevin Hime has said ever since I've known him, "you can't have teacher quality until you have teacher quantity". I have always understood this to mean that until we have multiple GREAT teachers applying for the same job every time, there will always be a place for the ineffective teacher to go. Kids deserve a great, inspirational, effective teacher in every classroom!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Dear Gov. Fallin

Dear Governor Fallin,

I am writing you today to ask that you sign HB2625 into law. Although you and I may disagree on the merits or potential outcomes of this pivotal legislation, I think we both agree we should find more ways to include parents in the educational decisions of children. We both stand for local control, parent involvement, and high standards. As a professional educator, I believe HB2625 enables all of these things to continue.

I would like to take the time to address some of the opposition’s arguments regarding HB2625.  No doubt you have heard their reasons many, many times and I do not wish to repeat them here. However, I think we both agree that any argument that says childhood illiteracy will be eliminated by simply repeating 3rd grade is disingenuous. Are we so na├»ve to believe the world could save quadrillions of dollars each year by eliminating reading teachers and reading textbooks because learning to read can be accomplished by repeating 3rd grade? If this is true, then why would Oklahoma have a law that lets students scoring Limited Knowledge be promoted? Do those students not deserve to be “given the gift of reading”?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think there are times when retention has value. But shouldn’t the parent and the child’s teachers decide when and if retention is educationally appropriate? I agree with the consensus on retention research: retention is more effective when students are retained sooner than later. I know you are concerned in some instances the intention of the law will be corrupted and twisted. To that I will say this type of behavior is not acceptable in a profession tasked with the monumental responsibility of educating children. But should every parent and every child in our great state be denied due process being afforded them by this law? Currently, students and their parents have no appeal process, nor do they have the ability to find out if their test score is accurate. Even our most violent criminals and those condemned to die for their crimes are allowed to appeal the judgments against them, but not our children? They can’t even get a copy of their exam to see if any mistakes or reporting errors have occurred! Our students and their parents simply have to take the word of a company from Indiana that has proven they are prone to disastrous mistakes.

My final argument for asking you to sign HB2625 into law is simply this; I believe the current mandatory retention law reinforces a devastating ideology that is crippling our society. We should be teaching our children the journey is important and not the destination; that success comes from the hard work, dedication, and persistence and not from a number on a piece of paper. Do we want our children to learn it’s the hard work that earns them money, or do we want them to learn that money given to them by welfare is sufficient? What about that student who scored unsatisfactory after a year of hard work, tutoring, Saturday school, etc. What if that same student doubled or tripled their reading and comprehension level? Do we want them to continue to work hard and progress, or do we want them to be told, “sorry, not good enough. You will have to repeat the 3rd grade”? Will a 9 year old give the same effort to improve their reading when they were told last year’s efforts didn’t count?  Shouldn’t the parent and the teacher evaluate the child’s hard work, dedication, and effort? Shouldn’t the amount of reading growth or improvement matter more than an arbitrary score on a test that no one will ever see again? Don’t our children deserve to be viewed as individuals and not just a statistic?

In conclusion, please allow HB2625 to become law. Please place your trust in the educators who have been trusted by their local communities. Sometimes students need to be retained; sometimes they shouldn’t. By signing HB2625 into law, we can still maintain rigorous reading standards, get more parents involved in their children’s education, and allow the democratic process of local control to make the best decision for our children.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Your Choice

I drove down to Chickasha Tuesday night to listen to the Republican State Supt candidates. The distinction between Dr. Barresi and Mrs. Hofmeister could not be any more obvious. Here are a just a couple of causal observations from Tuesday night:

  • “I” vs. “We” – next time you hear either candidate speak about their vision, philosophy, or goals pay attention to the point of view. It was “I will continue to fight” or “I will stand up for rigorous standards” or “I created…” versus “We need to listen to the experts in the field” or “We need to create an accurate accountability system” or “we should have high standards”. 

  • Value vs Covet - I found it interesting to hear each candidate’s vision. To me, vision is what success looks like when the mission has been accomplished. Janet seems to prioritize policies over people. She seems to take more pride in the enactment of policies than concern with the impact those policies have on children.  A-F, 3rd grade retention, increasing cut scores on graduation tests, and changing subject standards are all badges of honor for her. Joy talks about students and individuals.  She calls for higher standards and high expectations, but focuses on providing the support to empower professionals to accomplish these expectations. When the Biology cut score was intentionally set so that almost 50% of the students would fail or the impact on a SPED student being told they must repeat 3rd grade after working to improve in reading, Janet talked about the need for the policy whereas Joy talked about the need's of  the individual student. One candidate values people and the other covets political policies.

  • Fight vs. Lead – Janet wants to fight the status quo and the union bosses. Anyone else think this is funny other than me? Does she really think Steven Crawford for CCOSA and Linda Hampton at OEA are virtual Mafioso bosses? Does Janet think they use member dues to line the pockets of judges and politicians? (Sorry Godfather has been on TV all week) Please show me one politician who is in total fear of being visited by an OEA member or CCOSA member? Teacher tenure has been removed, trial de novo is gone, 50% of teacher evaluations are from test data, class sizes are skyrocketing, teacher pay raises haven’t happened since 2005. You think all that would have happened if OEA & COSSA had the power worthy of Janet’s wrath? Joy had the line of the night, “we need new leadership because of failed leadership: you can’t call yourself a leader when no one is following you”. You have to ask yourself, can you truly improve the educational experiences of students and can you really improve the depth of student learning without the help of experts in the field?

  • Positive vs Negative: This is the biggest difference between the two candidates, in my opinion. I think each candidate’s perspective comes from their past experiences with educators and is magnified by their personality. Janet has a general distrust and dislike for all things public education. She has repeatedly said negative comments regarding teachers. Almost every story Janet tells at public events is a tale of teacher failure. From her point of view, 75% of special education students have an IEP because a teacher failed to teach them to read properly. Janet doesn’t think teachers do a good job, she doesn’t like administrators who offer differing strategies for improvement, and she doesn’t trust local communities to do what is in the best interests of its children. On the other hand, Joy knows policies can't be implemented through a closed fist approach. She is adamant that local boards of education have the ability to make the best decision for its children. She wants to hear from school stakeholders who might have an idea on how to improve student learning in their community and school. Where Janet is constantly minimizing the contributions of professional educators through denigration and acrimony, Joy wants to listen to teachers who have solutions forged by years of experience working with children on a day to day basis.  

For me, it comes down to this: Do you want a State Supt who advocates for public education or advocates for its demise? Do you want a State Supt who wants to increase student achievement by working with practitioners or one who blames those same practitioners for every problem? Do you want a State Supt who wants locally elected officials to make decisions for their children, or do you want one who does today whatever Florida did last year?  Do you want a State Supt who trusts teachers to do what is best for students, or do you want one who says we have to have a high stakes test to make sure teachers do their job?  To me, the choice is clear.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Horton Hears a Who; Jason hears BS!

Yes, I am the blogger who keeps writing about RSA. I can’t help it; especially when junk facts keep spewing from people who should know better.  Recently, I heard the SDE’s Executive Director of RSA, an Oklahoma House of Representatives member, and our State Superintendent of Public Instruction argue the necessity of mandatory retention of 3rd grade students. But here is what I find interesting. In every situation, the 3 amigos mentioned above all used the EXACT same example to support their claim; "A child who scores unsatisfactory on a third-grade assessment can't read and comprehend 'Horton Hears A Who.' But they're being sent into fourth grade where they are expected to read and understand "Little House on the Prairie,'". Sounds like a logical argument, but it is flat out false!

Here are some facts that you won’t hear from the 3 amigos:

So a couple of things come to mind from the above facts:

  • According to grade equivalents, Horton Hears A Who is about a half a grade equivalent below Little House on the Prairie! (3.8 to 4.3)
  • Lexile says Horton Hears A Who is actually 3rd grade book where Little House on the Prairie is a 6th grade book. If any educator is trying to promote a student who can’t read and comprehend a 3rd grade reader to the 6th grade, then THAT is the problem we should be talking about.
  • Can someone explain to the 3 Amigos Dr. Seuss wrote Horton Hears a Who for adults to read promoting the excitement of imagination and reading to children?
  •  What does this say about Lexile numbers when the grade equivalent of Little House on the Prairie is in the 6th grade range but on a 4.3 grade equivalent?

So the 3 Amigos, in an effort to persuade everyone that they know best, want you to believe a student who scored unsatisfactory on the 3rd Grade OCCT reading test (which by the way, has more non reading questions on it than comprehension questions) can’t read a book designed for adults to read to their children when in 4th grade some out of control teacher might have them read a book the Lexile framework indicates is a 6th grade reader!

Their logic, not mine.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Great and Powerful OZ

Now I know how Dorothy felt in the Wizard of OZ! Monday I was walking on cloud 9, head held high, and rejuvenated after standing arm in arm with 30,000 other disenfranchised educational stakeholders. Tuesday, I was cast back into the doldrums of despair by an all-too-common political agenda from the far, far right wing arm of the Republican party. In almost every instance of opposition, I came across the same message: failing schools, greedy administration, dodging accountability, too many administrators or too many schools, etc. The constant regurgitation of the same messaging and branding got me thinking about this very important question:  Who’s running Oklahoma?

It is not a trick question. Go deeper; I’m not talking about Gov. Fallin, Janet Barresi, or even the Republic Party. Sure, you can say Gov. Fallin holds the highest political office in the state, and Barresi holds the highest education political office. However, did you know Gov. Fallin was a strong proponent of Common Core standards as part of her NGA initiative for Education and Jobs? Did you know Supt. Barresi was the chairwoman for PARCC, the second generation assessments for Common Core? Now they can’t distribute strongly worded anti-Common Core press releases fast enough! What changed? They use almost the exact same wording to describe their recent flip flop on the issue! They say, “federal interference” and “new rigorous standards” and “raising standards” and “ensuring accountability”. It is not just them either; Senators and Representatives alike are using almost the exact same phrases when it comes to educational funding, high stakes testing, teacher pay, etc. How is it these politicians have the same spin or the same version of the facts? Then it dawned on me - they must be getting their information from the same political source. Is it possible they all have the same political strategist? No, they all have different people or consultants running their campaigns or offices. Do they all have access to the same polling data? Now, I think I'm onto something! So I will ask again, who’s running Oklahoma?

I think there is someone or group working behind the scenes to craft an effective message. Someone’s behind the curtain pushing buttons and pumping pipes to fill politicians with information and messaging to further promote a specific agenda. I think if you peek behind the curtain you’ll find the pollsters (doing their best OZ impersonation) who ask the questions. They ask questions in ways that “push” voters toward a desired outcome.  These machinations behind the curtain have now produced polling data supporting their idea or agenda.

Or could the “person” behind the curtain possibly be the group hiring the pollsters; the group who wants to drive public policy to reap the financial or political rewards from the newly created agenda from their polling data. But where does this agenda originate? Did it start with ALEC? FEE? OPAC? Those organizations do a great job of crafting model legislation or model public policy. However, I still think there is a group lurking behind the scenes, staying hidden behind the curtain, so they can continue to run Emerald City. So -  who is running Oklahoma?
I’ll blog on possible answers to this question next!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


It has been a week or so since my last blog. I really have so many things to write about I couldn't just hone in on one. So, instead of drilling down into the finer points of this week's education reform, I just wanted to skim over some of the more salient points.

I had an interesting conversation with several lawmakers the last couple of weeks.  After all these conversations, the one thing I came away with was “REQUIRED by law” seems to be their mantra, the cornerstone of their philosophy.  Here is what I mean:
·        I actually had 3 legislators tell me the only reason educators do things is because it is “REQUIRED BY LAW”.  One actually told me the only reason educators teach reading is because the RSA law requires it. They went on to explain to me (and yes, it is not fun sitting there being told what your job is by a person who has never ACTUALLY done the job, but I digress) they HAD to put mandatory retention into RSA BECASUSE educators were just passing kids onto the next grade without teaching them anything. Yes, this legislator really was convinced of this. This legislator actually believes if the mandatory retention is, in their words, “weakened” then educators will stop screening for reading deficiencies, pulling out students for remediation, and all the other things educators do to help children.

·        Speaking of “REQUIRED BY LAW”, isn’t this the most self aggrandizing, self righteous position you’ve ever heard of! The notion that educators, or any other person for that matter, only do what is right, moral, and ethical in our profession is because a legislator had the foresight to write a bill that became law.  WOW!

·        More on this in a later blog, but can we at least talk about the RSA law with some truth? The early screening, intensive researched based remediation, academic plans, and the general focus on child literacy are GREAT aspects of RSA. But to impose a ZERO TOLERANCE aspect in mandated retention is absurd. So we retain students who score unsatisfactory (I still do not care what ANYONE says, you can’t determine reading grade level by the number of correctly answered raw questions on a test that has questions where reading comprehension is not the desired outcome of the question). The SDE says 12% of students will score unsatisfactory; which is about 5,000 students. The SDE also magically says 50% of those will qualify for a good cause exemption; leaving 2500 students who are required to be retained. What I want is the ability to decide at the local level with the input of the parent what is in the best interest of the child! Why is that so bad? If we just socially promote students who can’t read then shame on us. If we are forced to retain a child who finally started making strides in reading but not enough to be promoted then shame on the law and the legislators who signed off on a bad Florida law!

·        One last thing on RSA (not really, I have business cards printed that says “have soapbox; will travel!). Ever notice all the great things in RSA just magically end in 3rd grade? Once limited knowledge students get to 4th grade (the State of Oklahoma and the famous legislators who believe it only gets done because there is a law requiring it) all the support goes away. No academic plan, no research based intervention, no summer school, no intensive remediation, no funding, and no mandatory extra instructional time is required for those students in the 4th grade. WHY? Cause the politics of it goes away. Our state sup says 3rd grade is the “switch” where you go from learning to read to reading to learn. What a crock? If we stop teaching students to read in 3rd grade, then why does almost every school I know of having reading classes through 8th grade AND then why do we spend millions of dollars on a reading test in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade! You are right, the better question would have been, “why do we have reading questions on an ELA test in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade!  HB2625 allows parents, teachers, and reading specialists to make educational decisions based on the child. This decision is being made in the community that has to live with their decision. Not at the state level, where children look an awful lot like widgets! It also requires students who scored LIMITED KNOWLEDGE to keep their academic plan; to continue their remediation, intervention, and extended instructional time to get caught up with their peers.  Why do legislators keep turning their backs on parents and students of the largest group of struggling students?

·        Speaking of RSA: Apparently, The Daily Oklahoman feels perfectly fine telling its readers that 678,000 children really don’t matter! 3 times the DOK ran editorials in the last 2 weeks or so that specifically mentioned how the Rally for Education on March 31st was a “waste of time”, etc.  Education is the state’s largest employer. Educators are not the only people who are feeling the effects of the nation’s largest cut to an industry. Bus drivers, cafeteria workers, teacher’s assistances, secretaries, crossing guards, custodians, etc PLUS the 678,000 children in this state have had to do more with less.  They are tired of it. Not to mention that cuts to Clinton has a million dollar PER YEAR economic impact on our community.  But hey, according to the DOK the hard working Oklahomans who decided to stand up for the 678,000 children are just wasting their time.

·        So we are most likely going delay Common Core State Standards! This is a classic politician’s political move. Those opposed Common Core are being so effective that our legislators feel they need to do something, but they don’t feel strongly enough to do something permanent? What’s good about a delay?; nothing! Some will say we need to study Common Core’s impact. Why didn’t we study it BEFORE we adopted it? Why wait to study it after some schools have been teaching it for 2 years now? I think I’m like a lot of educators when I say this, “I’m in favor of unifying our standards, but I’m not in favor of the increase in high stakes testing that comes with common core”. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Twilight Zone

You're traveling to another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but also of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of the imagination. At the sign post up ahead, your next stop, the twilight zone.'  (Take the time to go find some classic Twilight Zone TV series intro music and reread for the full effect). Oklahoma has moved straight out of reality and into the Twilight Zone with RSA. In this case, RSA might stand for Really Stupid Adults making absurd solutions for real problems.

What am I talking about this time you say? Let me explain: In Oklahoma, we want to know if our 3rd grade students can read at the 3rd grade level by the end of the year. Now mind you, most educators will tell you that by the end of the year, students in 3rd grade should be reading near the 4th grade level, but let’s not get bogged down with these minor details. So to determine reading level for our 3rd grade students, we use a language arts test; you know the kind of test that doesn’t measure fluency, phonics, phonemic awareness, but does ask comprehension, alphabetizing, a student’s knowledge of how to use an index, and their ability to use the dictionary. We are told this test is the test that determines whether 3rd grade students can read sufficiently to be promoted to the 4th grade. This is very important here in the RSA Twilight Zone; we are told the 3rd Grade OCCT is a sufficient measure of a student’s ability to read at the 3rd grade level. Got it? Let’s go on. So what if a student makes a 23 raw score. This student has to be retained because of their 23, but a student who made a 24 goes on to 4th grade. The OKSDE would have you believe this score on the OCCT has a student reading at least 2 grade levels behind (I say this student is 1 raw question short of becoming a 4th grader, and it’s still BS, but for the sake of argument we’ll go on). So what do we do now you ask? To expedite this example, we’ll head straight for the good cause exemption of building a portfolio. In the OKSDE’s very own portfolio FAQs implementation guide, it specifically says teachers are not allowed to use the OCCT to determine mastery. WHAT?! You got it folks, right there on page 17 it specifically says OCCT “reporting categories do not provide enough information to determine whether a student has mastered that particular area of Oklahoma State Standards”.  So a student who might have gotten the majority of the reading comprehension questions correct on the OCCT can’t use the reading comprehension portion of the OCCT to demonstrate mastery!

Please let me say this another way: The OCCT is s good enough test to tell the student they aren’t ready to move on to the 4th grade, but it isn’t a good enough test to determine if a student can move on the 4th grade! It doesn’t make any sense to me either. This, my friends, is the very definition of absurd. Now where is that sign post, the one that points the way back to reality? Someone needs to point our SDE in the right direction.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Haters got to hate!

 Are you a public school hater? Do you know any public school haters? Don’t be too quick to judge! It would be nice to be able to walk up to people and just ask them, but it’s not that simple.  Nobody I know ever answers the public school question with a simple yes. Even the most pure public school haters give some sort of convoluted answer.  They’ll say they think public schools are great, but ….. insert true feelings here. It’s what comes after the “but” that I have found to be the true test of a person’s opinion on public schools. True feelings are shrouded in arguments that make sense to people who just casually listen. School choice, a child’s needs, safety or bullying issues, test scores, and many others are all very valid explanations of why they made a personal decision for their child’s education. Haters take these personal reasons and manipulate them to ATTACK public education to convince other parents to make the same choice! 

Take school choice for example. I personally believe in school choice. I think a parent’s right to choose what is best for them is a fundamental right in Oklahoma. Want to send your child to a Magnet school for fine Arts, to Classen School of Advanced Studies, OSSM, to a school that offers Advanced Placement courses, to a smaller school, to a bigger school, or even to the private school?  Great! Want to convince thousands of parents they should support school choice because public schools are failing? Hater! 

For the record, we have school choice in Oklahoma; parents can move/transfer among public schools, are free to home school their children, or to pay tuition to any private school.  (I don’t put much stock in the counter argument of some parents just can’t move to a good school). But that is not good enough for haters. Haters want to discredit and belittle public education. Haters constantly search for any tidbit of information they can twist, manipulate, or magnify so public education looks ineffective. You hear the mantra that taxpayers are “not getting a good return on their investment”.  Ever notice public school haters want to look at the average of all the testing data and then make comparisons to the world’s best students? Let’s face it, looking at public school testing averages are more of an indication of the students in the schools than the teachers. You think that is harsh? Students who score advanced on EOIs or 30s on the ACT sit in the same classes with the same teachers as students who don’t. So how can this be an indictment of public schools? Yet, they still use it. Ever since OHLAP took effect, more students are taking the ACT test, ACT scores are rising, and Oklahoma colleges and universities have record enrollments. All good indications public schools are doing better than they have ever before. However, no hater ever points this out. 

Here is the number 1 problem between haters and public educator supporters. Haters look at public schools and see the AVERAGE is not as good as the elite. To them, it is always about the average and not the individual. Public school supporters look at the individual kids. We see where they were before and where they are now. We see the struggles, the successes and failures, and we see the kids. We know we aren’t perfect; we recognize that even 1 public school student who doesn’t meet their potential is tragedy. If a parent is dissatisfied with our work, then we support that parent’s right to choose something different. However, we don’t support haters using a parent’s right to choose and trumped up evidence to suggest public schools are failing. It is simply not true. Just remember when you hear the next argument against public education, take a serious look at their reasoning; are they trying to explain why they made the decision or trying to convince you to do the same.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

RSA part 2:

I have engaged many, many people about the merits of my original RSA post. I stand by the fact the 3rd grade Reading Test is a Language Arts Test. Some took umbrage with me saying the non-comprehension questions had nothing to do with reading. Some argued skills like rhyming, figurative language, research, literary elements, and prefixes/suffixes are reading foundation skills. Okay. I will not argue otherwise. Let me clear up what I meant. A reading diagnostic test identifies the grade level at which a student comprehends what they read. The OCCT test does and cannot do this. The OCCT is an ELA diagnostic (of the summative and autopsy variety) test that identifies the SKILLS a student lacks.  This has to be clear: OCCT gives information about skills; Reading diagnostic gives information about reading comprehension level. They should not be confused. They are not interchangeable. The 3rd grade OCCT is an adequate diagnostic of the 3rd grade skills. The 3rd grade OCCT is not even close to a reading comprehension test. AND our leaders keep saying students are reading at the 1st grade level or 2 grade levels below 3rd grade. THEY don't even understand the explanation for the things THEY don't understand. For example: At the end of the 3rd grade year, a 3rd grader should be reading at the 4th grade level or higher. 2 grade levels behind would be the 2nd grade level. Remember the test is given at the END of the 3rd grade. Students shouldn't be on the 3rd grade level AFTER the 3rd grade! Not only do THEY not KNOW what they are TALKING about, they don't even understand their own explanation!

 Finally, let me say this. I think we should have high standards for literacy in Oklahoma. Reading is such an important skill, we should not take lightly those who struggle with reading. But here is my problem with RSA. What makes people think a 5th year of a RSA plan will do what the 4 previous years of RSA plans didn't do? at risk KG - RSA Plan; at risk in 1st - RSA Plan; at risk in 2nd - RSA Plan; at risk in 3rd - RSA plan; repeat 3rd grade?  Why can't we just say, if a child has been undergoing intensive remediation and intervention while on an RSA plan for more than 2 years we let the classroom teacher, principal, and parent make the best educational decision for that child. Why is that so hard? 

My Original RSA post with clarifications in RED

The 3rd grade Reading test is not a reading test, it's a Language Arts test. WHAT?! Let me explain.Yes, a Language Arts test. The 3rd grade OCCT Reading test has 24 questions about Reading Comprehension. It also has 26 questions covering ELA skills.  In these 26 questions, students are asked to alphabetize, identify figurative language such as homonyms, antonyms, synonyms, and homophones.  Students are asked to identify words that rhyme, identify root words and their prefixes and suffixes, and to write general summaries.  That's right, over half of the reading test are questions that do not require a student to read AND comprehend; they are questions over 3rd grade language arts skills. These skills might be a prelude to reading or foundation skills, but they do not require reading comprehension.  A reading test is a test measuring one’s ability to, well READ. It measures fluency, phonics, phonetic analysis, and structural awareness. Oklahoma’s 3rd grade OCCT doesn't test for ANY of those skills.

It is appalling our state leaders can’t be honest with us.  Telling the public it is necessary to retain 3rd graders for scoring unsatisfactory on a Language Arts test because the test indicates they READ below grade level is just absurd. Did you know a 3rd grader can correctly answer 23 of the 24 Reading Comprehension questions AND still score unsatisfactory on the test? Did you also know it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to determine a student’s reading level on the OCCT? The SDE would have you believe students who score unsatisfactory on the test are reading at the 1st grade level. POPPYCOCK! At what level do students who score advance read? A reading level diagnostic test uses vocabulary, sentence structure, and increasing difficulty in comprehension questions to determine reading level. The OCCT test doesn't have any of those capabilities.

So we have a State Department of Education who has convinced Oklahoma it is irresponsible to promote a 3rd grader who can’t read, while using a Language Arts test to determine reading grade level. Talk about irresponsibility!  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Not on my Watch!

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! 3rd grade students will now be forced to repeat 3rd grade for failing a Language Arts test!  Yes, the new Language Arts Sufficiency Act (OSDE acronym of LASA, pronounced lasa) requires students in 3rd grade who score UNSATISFACTORY on the 3rd grade language arts test to be retained.  Why you ask. Well, according to the State Superintendent "how can we even consider promoting a student who can't read"!

WHAT?! Let me explain. The test 3rd graders will take is a Language Arts test. Yes, a Language Arts test. The 3rd grade OCCT Reading test has 24 questions about Reading Comprehension. It also has 20 questions having nothing to do with reading.  In these 20 questions, students are asked to alphabetize, identify figurative language such as homonyms, antonyms, synonyms, and homophones.  Students are asked to identify words that rhyme, identify root words and their prefixes and suffixes, and to write general summaries.  Yes, almost half of the 3rd grade Reading test has nothing to do with Reading!  A reading test is a test measuring one’s ability to, well READ. It measures fluency, phonics, phonetic analysis, and structural awareness. Oklahoma’s 3rd grade OCCT doesn't test for ANY of those skills. 

It is appalling our state leaders can’t be honest with us.  Telling the public it is necessary to retain 3rd graders for scoring unsatisfactory on a Language Arts test because the test indicates they READ below grade level is just absurd. Did you know a 3rd grader can correctly answer 23 of the 24 Reading Comprehension questions AND still score unsatisfactory on the test? Did you also know it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE to determine a student’s reading level on the OCCT? The SDE would have you believe students who score unsatisfactory on the test are reading at the 1st grade level. POPPYCOCK! At what level do students who score advance read? A reading level diagnostic test uses vocabulary, sentence structure, and increasing difficulty in comprehension questions to determine reading level. The OCCT test doesn't have any of those capabilities.

So we have a State Department of Education who has convinced Oklahoma it is irresponsible to promote a 3rd grader who can’t read, while using a Language Arts test to determine reading grade level. Talk about irresponsibility!