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More than ABC’s and 123’s: State lawmakers debate new English and math standards

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OKLAHOMA - With the clock ticking, lawmakers took part in a forum to hear from two experts who have reviewed the final drafts of Oklahoma's academic standards for English language arts and math.

Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, said, if Oklahoma fails to act on March 23, "these standards will become law and remain so for the next few years."

Dr. Lawrence Gray of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Sandra Stotsky said the standards need extensive rewriting to be effective in the classroom, provide a foundation for assessment and to assure students are ready for college.

Former teacher Jennie White agrees.

"I'm just concerned the state has the best standards they can have. And, unfortunately, the way they are written, they are vague without the examples. We are not getting what we need for new teachers and for students," White said.

The education experts said the standards are inferior in several ways to other states.

They have identified well over 100 items that need to be fixed either by getting rid or rewriting them all together.

Experts were asked to review the final plan by the state Department of Education.

The new standards were written by Oklahoma educators and had received a considerable amount of support.

"I think, by and large, most people educators across the state feel the standards are ready, they are rigorous and our students need to have them sooner than later," Martin said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said, in a statement, she has the utmost confidence in the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.

"After an exhaustive, transparent and inclusive process that involved thousands of Oklahoma educators, parents, community leaders and business professionals, I believe these standards represent a significant step forward from the standards in current use. That view is echoed by 60 letters of support from content reviewers and groups of experts at the state, regional and even national levels, as well as Oklahoma teachers, education administrators and parents. These men and women repeatedly lauded the standards’ rigor, college- and career-readiness and strong research base. The standards have also been certified by Oklahoma’s Higher Education Board of Regents."

In regards to the reviews from Gray and Stotsky, she said it is ironic House Bill 3399 demanded Oklahoma-based standards, "yet some are attempting to stall them as a result of the feedback from one or two out-of-state people."

Lawmakers have just eight days to act for the new standard to go in place next school year.