November 7, 2014

Okla. Teachers Union Wants to End High-Stakes Testing

Print More

A push to end high-stakes testing in Oklahoma received a boost from the state’s largest teachers’ union the day after a new superintendent of education was elected.

Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association, said she believes too much emphasis has been put on testing results. She used the third grade reading retention law as an example.

That law requires students who scored at the lowest level on the state’s reading test be withheld from fourth grade unless they meet certain exemptions.

The legislature voted to ease the law for two years, but the issue is expected to remain on lawmakers’ agendas.

“This isn’t just something we decided to do now,” Hamton said. “We’ve been worried about this for years. I think parents are now starting to see the consequences of testing.”

The OEA pushed their stance against testing Wednesday by signing onto a resolution adopted by the state Parent Teacher Association during their 2014 convention.

How would schools determine if students are ready to graduate or are meeting academic standards required to advance to the next grade?

Hampton said teachers can use projects, portfolios and class participation to determine where a student stands academically.

“A test is just one tool that measures what a student is doing on one day,” Hampton said. “It’s not really fair to look at a student on just one day.”

A spokeswoman for Superintendent-elect Joy Hofmeister said they expect testing to be discussed by the Legislature during the upcoming session, but declined to take a stance.

Hofmeister is replacing outgoing Superintendent Janet Barresi in January.

Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed last session’s bill that eased third grade retention requirements.

Her veto was overridden by the legislature.

Alex Weintz, a spokesman for Fallin, did not discuss the governor’s position on assessments, but said she will work with Hofmeister and lawmakers to find a balanced approach to testing that evaluates students’ progress.

Testing also made an appearance on this year’s campaign trail.

Democrat Joe Dorman, who lost his election against Fallin for governor on Tuesday, ran on a platform that included ending high-stakes testing.