The state Board of Education granted waivers Thursday to three more high school seniors who did not meet state testing requirements. All are from Tulsa Union Public Schools.
The board has granted graduation waivers to five of 38 students it has voted on, with about 70 more applications to consider.
A 2005 law called Achieving Classroom Excellence requires that students pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams, also known as EOIs. Each senior must pass the exams to receive a diploma.
A new law passed in April required the state Education Department to set up an appeals process if a student is denied a diploma. The law allows the board to give students a waiver because of extenuating circumstances. A waiver can only be granted for a single exam.
After three hours of meeting in private, the board discussed two students in an open session. They were identified as Norman No. 38 and Union No. 29.
Norman Public Schools was chastised for not encouraging student No. 38 to complete a project — an alterative to the EOI exam.
“The district is making that decision and they do not have that purview,” State Superintendent Janet Barresi said.
The student's appeal was denied.
The board also denied the appeal for the student labeled Union No. 29, despite an appeal from Gart Morris, a principal at Union High School. Morris said the student has moved many times throughout his life, including spending time living outside the United States. The student should have qualified for a special exemption but was not enrolled in a single school for a long enough time.
“Student 29 has worked diligently at his time at Union High School,” Morris said. “I would request you consider this perspective I have presented.”
Lloyd Snow, superintendent of Sand Springs Public Schools, told the board his district has narrowed down the list of graduating seniors from 31 to two. But officials have lost contact with those two students, both of whom live in poverty and have complicated lives.
“I grieve for those kids,” he said. “They passed their classes.”
In other business
Barresi reported that more than 5,000 people attended the Vision 2020 conference, a workshop for educators, parents and community members from across the state earlier this month.
Lori Dickinson, president of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, was asked to talk to the board about public-private partnership. “There's no one reform program or effort that's going to improve that,” Dickinson said. “It's going to take all of us working together, putting aside differences, putting aside political differences.”
About 28,700 Oklahoma students in prekindergarten through eighth grade were in foreign language courses as of 2011, reported Desa Dawson, director of world language education for the state. About 58,800 high school students are enrolled in foreign language courses. Both numbers have declined by about 3,000 since 2008.
The board changed the way districts will receive money for training for the new teacher evaluation system. Instead of giving districts money per student, districts will receive money per evaluator.