State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi is shifting the blame for this year's testing failures and for future testing issues. This is disappointing.
Barresi has expressed outrage over the testing failures. CTB/McGraw-Hill openly acknowledged that the failure was on its end, not as a result of problems at the school district level. Referring to the disruption of 3,000 Oklahoma students and 30,000 Indiana students on the first Monday and Tuesday of federally mandated testing, the testing company said it regretted the system interruption and had made changes to correct the situation.
It said the outage in Indiana occurred because “our simulations did not fully anticipate the pattern of live student testing.” CTB/McGraw-Hill clearly accepted blame for the problem. Baressi, though, said the testing vendor “crashed for two days because of server problems, but almost every bit of the rest of it was due to district issues. I'm not pointing fingers, but it is the reality.”
The elected office of state superintendent of public instruction is vital to the growth of Oklahoma students. It requires accountability and should be taken seriously by a leader who accepts responsibility when things go wrong, seeks to correct mistakes and praises others for their hard work.
Time and again, educators and school board members have offered their assistance to Barresi, only to have those requests ignored. When the professionals get fed up with not being taken seriously, they take matters into their own hands and commission studies, such as the report done recently by the Oklahoma Education Association on the problems associated with CTB/McGraw-Hill and spring testing, and the A-F Report made by researchers at OU and OSU at the request of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and the Cooperative Council of School Administrators.
Yet these efforts are viewed as attacks on the state Department of Education rather than helpful, collaborative tools to be used by the department. They're rebuffed as “whining” or outright ignored.
Despite this, we will continue to advocate for Oklahoma school board members and the children they represent.
Mills is executive director of the Oklahoma State School Boards Association.