EDUCATION WATCH BLOG
May 21, 2015
Correction: Earlier versions of this blog incorrectly said this bill would reduce the number of end-of-instruction exams students take to graduate.
An Oklahoma lawmaker’s last-minute push to pass a bill that he said would cut end-of-instruction testing would not actually reduce the number of tests students must pass to graduate or the total number of available tests.
Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said an amendment was made to appropriations bill HB 2232 Wednesday night to replace language dealing with state Supreme Court funds with language that reduces end-of-instruction testing.
Nelson said HB 2232 combines elements of two House bills that got stuck in the Senate committee earlier this session.
While Nelson said the bill would reduce the number of exams a student must take to graduate from seven to four: algebra I, English II, biology I and U.S. history, state law already requires that students pass four of the exams.
If a student doesn’t get a proficient score on the U.S. history or biology exams, they could still take one of the other three end of instruction tests, according to the bill. The other exams are algebra II, English III and geometry.
Amanda Ewing, associate executive director at the Oklahoma Education Association teachers union, said the bill could increase the number of exams students take by forcing them to take biology.
She said students currently don’t have to take biology, one of the harder exams to pass. Requiring students to take biology increases the chances more students would fail and have take another exam to meet their graduation requirement.
Under the current system, students are required to take English II and algebra I, but can pick the final two exams they feel most confident in.
Meredith Exline, president of the Oklahoma Central Parent Legislative Action Committee, said many parents are not fans of the bill because they want to see all end-of-instruction tests eliminated.
Exline said she preferred a bill that replaced end-of-instruction tests with another exam, such as the ACT.
Exline added colleges don’t look at end-of-instruction exams.
“A lot of parents are supportive of the ACT,” she said. “It’s meaningful to kids. It’s the way they get into college around here.”
The amendment does allow districts to give paper-and-pencil tests to students. Current law requires tests to be administered on a computer.
Nelson said the change is meant to help rural districts with limited Internet access.
While most bills that failed to make it out of committee earlier in the session are dead, appropriation bills remain alive until the end of the session.
Because HB 2232 already made it out of committee, it will go straight to the Senate floor for a vote if it passes the House.
The Legislature is trying to end the session by Saturday, meaning action on the bill will have to be quick.
Note: An earlier version of this blog did not mention that while the bill would reduce the number of end-of-instruction tests, it would not lower the number a student needs to graduate.