Fewer students in elementary and middle schools across Oklahoma scored proficient or advanced on more rigorous tests than in previous years, according to preliminary scores delivered Wednesday by state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi.
Barresi, flanked by education and business leaders, told a gathering at the state Capitol that new tests for fifth- and eighth-graders in science and writing, and a new biology test for high school students seeking diplomas, are designed to prepare students for 21st century challenges.
“Higher standards come with more rigorous tests, so it is not surprising that we saw a drop in some scores this year,” Barresi said. “We are no longer just asking students to memorize a list of facts and a list of figures. We are helping them to apply their knowledge and to solve real-world problems.”
The superintendent said teachers are in the final stages of aligning instruction to new college and career-ready standards implemented by lawmakers in 2010.
The new standards are designed to help students think on their feet, develop critical thinking skills, and to solve problems, she said.
School officials will have 30 days to review the data and request corrections before the state finalizes the scores.
Robert Sommers, secretary of education and workforce development, was among those speakers who addressed the need to prepare students to compete for skilled jobs.
“Our students are not prepared for the high-skill jobs that are out there academically. They are being challenged to be ready for college immediately after high school,” said Sommers, director of the state CareerTech department. “Part of that challenge is setting high expectations.”