July 8, 2015

State PTA Considers Testing Boycott

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Nate Robson

Nate Robson

EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
July 8, 2015

The Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association is considering boycotting a slew of Oklahoma’s high-stakes tests, as educators continue to push back against such testing.

State PTA President Jeffery Corbett said on Wednesday that the organization will consider a resolution this Friday boycotting all non-federally mandated tests.

The boycott would include all Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests from third through eighth grades not required by federal law, fifth and eighth grade writing, fifth grade social studies, seventh grade geography, U.S. history, all fine arts assessments from third through eighth grades, and any end-of-instruction exams not needed for graduation.

The PTA would also call for the state to replace end of instruction exams with an exam offered by the ACT, a move for which education Superintendent Joy Hofmeister has advocated.

“Earlier this year, our state legislators had the opportunity to remove or decrease a number of these tests,” Corbett said in a written statement. “We encouraged them to do just that. We even rallied at the State Capitol to make certain they heard us. They chose not to listen.”

Doug Folks, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Education Association teachers union, called the potential PTA boycott the next logical step in the push to cut high-stakes testing.

He stopped short of saying the OEA supports the boycott, though.

“The opt-out question is difficult for us because, while we are against high-stakes test, it can be a problem for our members if they encourage parents to opt out their children,” he said.

The main concerns, Folks added, are that incomplete tests still count against schools on the state’s A-F report card, and against teachers during their evaluation.

The union did ask lawmakers to cut back on testing this session, and created a documentary video looking at the effects of high-stakes testing on students in an attempt to get their point across to lawmakers and the public.

The PTA resolution does ask that the state Department of Education not use the test scores to calculate school A-F grades.

The resolution also calls for the department to exempt all schools from A-F grading if less than 95 percent of their students are tested.

Hofmeister has said she will continue her push to reduce high-stakes testing in Oklahoma when the Legislature convenes again next year.

“We believe there is excessive and meaningless testing and supported a measure this past session that would have rendered moot this potential boycott,” she said in a written statement Wednesday.

Nate Robson can be reached at nrobson@oklahomawatch.org



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