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Three experts help Oklahoma leaders create academic standards

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OKLAHOMA CITY - In an effort to replace the Common Core education standards that were repealed last year, the Oklahoma Academic Standards Steering Committee met Monday to hear from three experts.

Dr. Larry Gray, a mathematics professor at the University of Minnesota, came by the Sooner State to talk about developing English language skills, along with creating math standards.

Dr. Jane Schielack, the associate dean for assessment and pre-K education at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, a professor of education reform at the University of Arkansas, also contributed their research to the committee on Monday.

"They've outlined a process so they were one of our top picks to come in," Committee Chairperson Amy Anne Ford said.

Organizers say the three professionals were instrumental in developing academic standards in other states.

Stotsky helped reform Massachusetts' public education into one of the nation's best.

She believes teachers are the key to having good standards.  She also said teacher's input on testing material is important to a student getting feedback, as opposed to only getting a grade on a state or federal test.

"You are basically cutting out the major link between testing and learning," Stotsky said.  "There is no way to learn from a test score on a federal
or state test.  It is simply a gage."

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister likes the idea of using what works, but she wants to make sure the new standards have Oklahoma fingerprints.

"We want to start with something that we already know has evidence that produced the outcome we want to see for Oklahoma students," Hofmeister said.

Stotsky recommended using Oklahoma authors and history as part of the curriculum.

"The individuals that are going to participate on these writing teams will be Oklahomans," Ford said.  "We always put our own little twist on things and we foresee that happening.  But these will be written by Oklahomans and vetted by Oklahomans."

The committee was told there should be several levels of input and review for any proposed standards.

The meeting was the first for new Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

Last year, Gov. Mary Fallin signed House Bill 3399, which directed the State Board of Education to oversee the creation of standards for English language arts and mathematics.

The state legislature must approve the new standards by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.

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