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!