Delayed test results make it harder to meet new academic standards

OKLAHOMA CITY-  While education officials announce higher standards for Oklahoma classrooms, local school districts say they don’t know how high the new bar has been set because of a computer glitch.

The state legislature mandated the more rigorous Oklahoma Academic Standards in 2010 after passing Senate Bill 2033.

That bill called for the implementation of college and career-ready standards.

Oklahoma teachers are supposed to be in the final stages of aligning instruction to those new standards this school year.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi said Wednesday that more challenging test questions will lead to an initial drop in scores but a better outcome in the long run.

However, in April, a computer server problem with CTB/McGraw-Hill, the company that tallies state results, led to some test scores being thrown out.

Some students had to retake the test and schools didn’t receive official test results until Wednesday, weeks after they normally do.

The state’s largest district says the delay prevented teachers from targeting problem areas before the school year.

Sandra Park, Oklahoma City Public Schools deputy superintendent, said,  “We are going to need to show progress for the following year based on those test results. I can’t imagine the stress our classroom teachers must be feeling.”

School officials will have 30 days to review the data and request corrections before the state finalizes scores.

Park says by the time that happens, it will be nine weeks into the district’s school year.

But the State Department of Education said an outside study determined the computer glitch didn’t alter the actual results and schools received preliminary results in May.

Dr. Maridyth McBee, Department of Education’s assistant superintendent of accountability and assessment, said, “They [outside consultant] compared the scores of disrupted students with those that weren’t and didn’t find any consistent negative findings, so it looked like they scored as well as they would have.”

The higher testing standards were given to fifth and eighth-graders in science, writing and biology last spring.

Officials admit scores were lower than the previous year but Barresi said students will rise to the challenge and become better prepared for college and a career.

Last year’s test results for each school are expected to be made available to the public in October.