Oklahoma now requires testing to prove high school seniors have at least a minimal level of competency before they can receive a diploma. The state now issues A-F report cards for each school site based substantially on student performance. Next year, third-graders will be required to be proficient in reading in order to advance.
Those reforms focus education policy on output (results) instead of solely on input (dollars). Many of these reforms were first implemented in Florida beginning in the late 1990s and have since generated impressive results.
The Harvard report notes that Florida had the second-steepest “overall growth trend” of the 41 states measured and was one of a group of four states where average student gains from 1992 to 2011 amounted to “better than two years of additional learning.” Florida was among the six states making “the most achievement gains for every incremental dollar spent over the past two decades.”
The Harvard report shows Oklahoma has much ground to make up in education. Thankfully, it also indicates we're on course for significant improvement that closes troubling achievement gaps.