Superintendent nixes writing field tests ‘to relieve excessive testing’ for Oklahoma students


[FILE] A file photograph showing chemistry, physics and science textbooks sitting on an empty student desk inside an Atlanta, Georgia school.

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister announced today that the Oklahoma State Department of Education is eliminating field testing on this year’s state writing assessments. The decision will free up valuable time for more classroom instruction.

Since taking office, Supt. Hofmeister has been studying options to relieve excessive testing. Before taking action, she received assurances from testing vendor Measured Progress that eliminating the field tests will have no negative consequences.

“For the past few months, I have been reviewing the assessment options available to our state,” she said.

“At the same time, I have heard concerns from parents, students and educators about over testing. I know the standards and assessments are changing as required by state law. In order to best utilize the limited time our teachers have with their students for rich instruction, and after working with our state’s testing vendor, I have determined that the best course forward is to eliminate the writing field tests for our students.”

Writing tests are currently being sent to districts by the testing vendor. Each test has two prompts — one that fulfills state requirements as well as a separate field test. Measured progress will work with districts’ test coordinators to identify which prompts are the field tests.

Gov. Mary Fallin praised the decision to get rid of the field tests as an example of OSDE finding ways to end excessive testing and empower local schools.

“I believe in the importance of testing as a means of ensuring our children are getting the education and skills they need,” said Fallin. “At the same time, we all recognize that unnecessary testing can distract from the learning process and divert resources that should be in the classroom. Supt. Hofmeister has worked closely with educators and parents to identify and eliminate a test we don’t need, and I applaud her for taking this commonsense step.”

Field tests provide testing publishers with feedback on the validity of possible content for future exams by analyzing answers from students in real testing environments.

The field tests being eliminated would have doubled the amount of time needed to complete the fifth- and eighth-grade writing exams and added an additional writing prompt.

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