A Jenks principal gave a presentation about high stakes testing, which in his research takes away a full quarter from teaching and learning. He talked about kids who get lost, using a bag of unpopped popcorn as an analogy. Most kernels pop but there are always some in the bottom of the bag which don't due to a wide range of reasons. Today's' high stakes testing leaves students from a wide variety of circumstances, unsuccessful with no way to become successful. Several parents shared concerns about their personal experiences with high stakes testing and the stress which it brings to children.
There was a report from another Jenks principal who said that the Core Curriculum testing which begins in 2014 has a fatal flaw from the Oklahoma Department of Education. The test that Barresi choose has only one test with no modifications for special education students. All students have to take the same test. A severely mentally handicapped child will be required take the same test as a gifted student. The State Department of Education told districts to not give modified state tests this year, to get those students ready for next year. This is criminal. Under federal law, which supersedes state law, special education students follow an IEP, which is a federal document, and no IEP would allow such treatment of the child.
Janet Barresi chose this test because she thought it would be more challenging. She doesn't have a clue.
Senator John Ford was present and was asked some tough questions from audience members which ranged from questioning his support of high stakes tests, to lack of funding. He stated that a high school diploma should "mean something", but had no answer as to what it should mean. He, also, emphasized his concern that schools should be held accountable, saying that he knew some small schools which are not doing a good job after the statement was made that people think their own schools are great.
His comment on the recent passage of the two state questions which will cut public school funding even more, was that was what the voters wanted to do.
Debbie Jacoby, from Union, has two comments:
- If passing high stakes tests is the goal of having a high school diploma, instead of attending classes, passing class tests, and doing everything that is part of each class's requirements, shouldn't a high stakes test be given in order to get a college degree?
- How is Oklahoma going to recruit and keep excellent teachers when they are treated with such distain and disrespect by the state legislature?
We, public education supporters, have a long way to go in influencing and educating legislators, but as more parents become involved and more teachers break out of their comfort. Everyone who cares about children have to step up and let their voices join together to stop the madness which has been coming from the state capitol. Our children are our future.