Representatives pass measure to reduce number of tests, end-of-instruction exams

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OKLAHOMA CITY – While lawmakers are still trying to create a budget for next year, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a measure that would reduce the number of tests public school students take.

“Testing is an education policy problem we have discussed for years,” said Rep. Lee Denney. “Not only are we required to test students by the federal government, but testing is tied to a number of accountability systems we have in place. However, there is reasonable debate over how much testing is appropriate and parents and educators have made it clear that there are currently too many tests. This legislation will eliminate three EOI tests and several grade 3-8 tests in the upcoming year and give the state education department the authority to make further changes.”

House Bill 3218 reduces the number of required tests to 18, including:

  • One English and one math test in each grade from 3 to 8
  • Two science tests, one in grades 3-5 and one in grades 6-9
  • Four high school tests in English, math, science and U.S. history.

The tests that were removed include an art test, seventh-grade geography, fifth-and eighth-grade social studies and writing tests. Also, three end-of-instruction exams would be eliminated.

The measure allows the Oklahoma State Department of Education to create new graduation requirements for students, eliminating the requirement that students must pass the test in order to graduate.

“We hope to strike the right balance on testing and classroom instruction,” Denney said. “We need to have some record of progress in our public schools, but not to the extent that it interferes with the primary purpose of public schools- to educate students.”

“This testing reform bill will repeal our current end-of-instruction tests and replace them with high-value assessment tools for high school students. In addition, it limits standardized testing in grades 3 through 12 to only those federally required, plus U.S. History in high school. This is a momentous step toward a new focus on rich instruction and personalized learning for all students. It ensures input from stakeholders over the next year regarding new plans we will propose for state tests, graduation requirements and school accountability,” a statement from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister read. “The EOIs were a noble and ambitious idea, but after eight years of shackling them to graduation requirements, we have failed to move the needle in terms of college remediation or academic achievement. There is a better way. This legislation helps enable a smarter and more effective approach. In doing so, we can build stronger pathways to college and high-skill/high-demand careers, and we can build a meaningful A-F accountability system that is strengthened, credible and more transparent. Oklahoma public schools are facing serious challenges on a number of fronts, but I am optimistic that great things are ahead of us. House Bill 3218 helps pave the way for promising things on the horizon. And in the midst of a budgetary crisis impacting the entire state, there is no better time to dispense with these tests of dubious value.”

Now, the bill heads to the Senate for consideration.

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