Oklahoma state Board of Education considering changes to test rules

The Oklahoma state Board of Education debated Wednesday whether exemptions are too broad or too narrow for students who can't graduate from high school because they are unable to pass end-of-instruction exams.
BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL ccoppernoll@opubco.com Modified: March 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm •  Published: March 28, 2013
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“I certainly understand your concern. I also have concern for those that are economically disadvantaged,” Hoffmeister said. “ ... It seems to give preference to only those that are able to afford to go to a four-year university. I have a problem with that.”

Other board members said they were uncomfortable with any exemption related to college admissions.

“We want kids to graduate ready for college,” board member Bill Price said. “Have we done them a disservice by granting the exception and then allowing them to go to a university where they may not be ready?”

Price said students who plan to attend a two-year college could simply gain admission to a four-year university, earn the test exemption and then go to the two-year school.

At the state Capitol, several House members held a news conference to complain that a proposed rule would revoke existing academic standards and remove legislative oversight.

“What's the benefit of leaving us out of the approval process? The answer is control,” said Rep. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville. “We don't need to allow the total control to go to one person (state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi).

Joel Robison, chief of staff for the state Education Department, said the Board of Education has the sole authority under state law to adopt academic standards. The Education Department in recent years voluntarily sent the standards to the Legislature, he said. The standards are getting voluminous, more than 400 pages, and is causing an administrative burden. The proposed rule drawing the concern of the House members asks the Legislature for approval for the agency to stop that practice and “in no way takes out any of the current standards,” he said.

Contributing: Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau