Concerns arise over sample questions on Oklahoma state test for elementary students 

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OKLAHOMA - Sample questions on a standardized math test are causing confusion for some elementary students.

Some parents and teachers were concerned their 3rd grade students might get discouraged if they didn't know the answer because they haven't been taught the information in some of the sample questions.

“Unfortunately, what they did not look at was how difficult the content was," said Judy Mullen-Hopper. "So, you probably had a little 3rd grader taking their very first test, and heard that sample question and thought, 'Oh my gosh, is this what the test is going to be like?'”

Mullen-Hopper, a retired teacher, is talking about 3rd grade students in Oklahoma schools answering sample questions above their grade level on a state math test.

“Somebody should have had the foresight to have looked at the question and said let’s make it an easy one because, after all, the only thing that it's for is just to get the child ready to test,” she said.

Education officials said they were only looking to help schools by allowing multiple grades to test at the same time.

Third, 4th and 5th graders now test for math together.

All grades are given the same sample questions.

“It was actually to decrease the burdens on schools. As we know, it is very difficult to find volunteers to be in the schools as test monitors. Now, they are able to combine those three grades together,” said Joy Hoffmiester, State School Superintendent.

Hoffmiester said the change was a recommendation from teachers and test coordinators.

“We recognize that, in our smaller schools, they are going to need to provide tests to students in multiple grades at once,” Hoffmiester said.

But, she said, with anything new, there will be kinks.

She said the sample questions will not be handled the same way next year.

“Oh, of course not,” Hoffmiester said.

It’s something Mullen-Hopper thinks will help during an already stressful time.

“When those little 3rd graders arrive at the door, and they are just almost trembling - you have to calm them down and keep talking about how they're going to just do their best, and don’t worry about it,” Mullen-Hopper said.

The actual test questions were grade level appropriate.

Hoffmeister said a team of teachers will examine the tests this summer to see what worked and what didn't in order to make improvements.

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