Disabled students are required to take Oklahoma exams, too
Federal law requires all students to take state exams, even children with the most severe disabilities.
Statewide, students learn the same content, regardless of ability. When students are unable to take tests, they complete portfolios showing what they have learned.
Portfolios consist of documents, reports and videos. Each student is assessed a score of 1 to 6 for their skills and understanding. A score of 1 means the student responded in some way to presentation of the material. A score of 6 means the student understands the material completely.
Students don't necessarily have to score all 6's to move to the next grade or to graduate, but progress must be shown, said Todd Loftin, executive director for assessment and instruction and special education services.
One Oklahoma teacher said the tests don't prove anything. He said teachers are pressured to show improvement, even if children are not cognitively capable of completing the work. Students who are unable to use the restroom on their own have to complete state-mandated assignments about topics like geometry or the life cycle of plants.
Another teacher said while creating videos for the students' portfolios, some teachers will stand behind the camera and point to the answers students should select. Teachers also can take videos of the assignment over and over until the student guesses the correct answer. The teacher said tests should focus on more practical skills students will need in the real world, such as tying their shoes or writing their names.
All students have the right to learn the same material, said Rene Axtell, assistant state superintendent for special education.
Cheating isn't a problem, Axtell said. Teachers can retest if a student scored poorly, but rerecording the videos isn't a good practice, she said. Teachers should focus on working with their students until they understand.
“You've got to start somewhere and to continue to practice that skill,” she said.