Students who can't pass end-of-instruction exams will no longer get an automatic exemption from the requirement if they are accepted to college.
The state Board of Education spent two days discussing how to tweak agency rules, including two of the biggest reforms in recent years: the A-F school evaluation system and mandatory end-of-instruction exams, also called EOIs.
Stephanie Moser Goins, assistant general counsel for the state Education Department, presented the board with three versions of the rules governing EOIs and exemptions the state Board of Education can grant to certain students who don't pass the tests. Last year, students admitted to “selective” universities were given an automatic pass if they appealed. Three options were given to change the rule:
• Grant automatic waivers for students accepted to four-year universities.
• Grant automatic waivers for students accepted to four-year universities and certain, selective two-year college programs.
• No automatic waivers granted based on college plans.
On Wednesday, board member Joy Hofmeister pushed for the waiver to include selective programs at community colleges. The board rebuffed her suggestion and then voted Thursday to remove the waiver altogether.
Board members shouted during the meeting Thursday but hugged afterward.
Board member Amy Ford said she didn't like the waiver last year when board members were considering appeals.
“I have a problem with it then, and I have a problem with it now,” Ford said. “I'm ready to have that not a part of our rule.”
For the class of 2012, seven students received automatic waivers because of college acceptance.
Hofmeister said several others who didn't receive a waiver had been accepted to the Tulsa Achieves program. She said she worries students who need the most financial help will lose the opportunity for scholarships and grants.
Board member Lee Baxter said students could apply for a waiver under the “extenuating circumstances” clause.
Last year, 591 of about 34,000 graduates of the class of 2012 did not receive diplomas because they failed to pass the tests. About 140 of them appealed to the state Board of Education for a waiver of the test requirements.
During the discussion about A-F reform, board members discussed the details about the formula used to grade schools. Board members debated issues such as whether the public had enough time to comment on proposed changes.
State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said the agency followed the law and that public comment was gathered and incorporated into changes.
“Every single year, we're really comfortable in taking a fresh new look at this to see how we can make the system better,” she said. “But at some point, you have to stop deliberations” and move on.
In other business, the board assessed penalties for two districts that exceeded the amount districts are allowed to carry over from one year to the next. School districts are allowed to carry over between 14 and 40 percent, depending on size. Laverne in Harper County was fined $61,901. Cleora in Delaware County was fined $3,106. The board waived penalties in five other districts: Cheyenne in Roger Mills County, Hammon in Custer and Roger Mills counties, Kiowa in Pittsburg County, Leedey in Roger Mills County and Sayre in Beckham County.