School testing settlement shows issue was taken seriously

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: July 30, 2013

The agency's settlement with CTB requires the testing vendor to spend $125,000 conducting a technology readiness assessment of all Oklahoma school districts. This study will review bandwidth, the number of work stations and the server configuration; perform online stress tests at every site; and deploy implementation services at all sites. This will help address technology deficiencies — and it won't cost schools one dime.

The settlement also requires CTB to pay for an independent study evaluating the impact of this spring's disruptions on student test scores, addressing another major concern. Whatever profit CTB was poised to make off its Oklahoma contract will be significantly depleted by the settlement. This is as it should be.

Although similar problems occurred in other states, including states using other vendors, Oklahomans deserve better. Barresi and her staff are making CTB live up to its promises — or pay the price.

Given that local school officials may not be eager to publicly identify failure, accurate state measurement of student progress is critical. Barresi and Department of Education officials are doing much to make valid assessments feasible in spite of technological challenges and narrow-minded opposition. They deserve thanks.

As for critics blowing spit wads from the peanut gallery, here's a question: If school administrators believe in the importance of high expectations and consequences when evaluating a testing vendor's performance, shouldn't the same standard apply to evaluating the administrators' own handiwork?

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