Oklahoma school officials assess graduation appeals process

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Published: September 30, 2012
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Even though the appeals process is in place, she said, students have many ways to succeed, such as retaking tests and completing alternative projects.

In November, about 6,400 students were at risk of not graduating because they had not passed enough EOIs, according to the Education Department.

By April, the number dropped to 2,000. Now, an estimated 550 students remain out of about 39,000 high school seniors, though the final numbers aren't in.

“These are students that would have graduated and gone on, but now I feel they have given the opportunity they deserve — their right to be educated to a certain level,” White said. “We're looking at 6,000 more students in Oklahoma that got more direct instruction in subject area to better prepare them in life that never would have happened last year.”

But those 550 or so students who haven't passed all their tests still have a chance to graduate, White said. They can complete special projects or alternative assessments any time.

However, if they want to try to retake the EOIs, they'll have to be enrolled in school, an option most educators don't expect students to take.

“We are looking at requesting legislative change for that,” White said.

The entire appeals process started because of Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City. He authored a bill amendment that created it.

The state Board of Education has been fair and thoughtful in granting the waivers, he said.

“It is what I had in mind,” Nelson said. “I did not expect and did not want them just willy-nilly granting waivers.”

Nelson said the appeals process is necessary safety net for the ACE reforms, which he said are good for students.

“Kids can rise to any challenge you put in front of them,” he said. “Teachers rose to the occasion. Students rose to the occasion. Parents rose to the occasion.”