OKC district test scores reflect dramatic drop
Under new standards, 80%-plus were not proficient in English, math
Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Aurora Lora had warned that tougher state tests would result in lower scores across the board.
She wasn’t kidding. Preliminary results obtained by The Oklahoman on Thursday show that nearly 83 percent of students in the district scored below proficient on new English and math tests taken last spring.
At 13 district schools, including nine elementary schools, every student in at least one grade who was tested failed to demonstrate proficiency in either English or math. The scores prompted a district official to remark, “there are schools that are not meeting the needs of students.”
By comparison, an average of 63 percent of Oklahoma students statewide scored below proficient in the 18 staterequired tests issued last school year in grades third through eighth, and 10th grade.
“We are currently working to validate and analyze the data, as we gather some additional details from the state,” said Beth Harrison, the district’s communications chief.
“It is important that we are allowed the opportunity to do a thorough review so we can provide meaningful context to our students, families and
staff. We look forward to sharing more details at our next regular Board of Education meeting on October 23.”
Lora had predicted the decline based on the implementation of more rigorous academic and testing standards. She downplayed the projected outcome, insisting that raising the bar “is a good thing for our kids in the long run.”
Still, nearly 82 percent of third- and fourthgrade students tested below proficient in English and math, while 81.5 percent of fifth-graders and 79 percent of sixthgraders scored below proficient on the two subjects, data shows.
Reached Thursday, school board Chair Paula Lewis said she had not seen the results but expects them “to be low.”
Lewis said more mandates and less funding is preventing students from becoming successful across Oklahoma, not just in the Oklahoma City district.
“The bottom line is we have to be able to provide our teachers with the resources they need to teach the kids,” Lewis said. “And the kids need what they need to learn, and that includes smaller class sizes and textbooks and higher pay for teachers.”
Secondary grades also struggled on the latest state assessments, with 82 percent of seventhgraders scoring below proficient in English and math. Ninety percent of eighth-graders scored below proficient in math and 83 percent scored below proficient in English.
“It is just a point in time, not a measure of improvement over time, school board member Rebecca Budd said of the test results.
Earlier this week, Lora told district families she expected the scores to have a “significant impact” on the numbers of students who would meet advanced or proficient levels of performance.
Lora said comparing 2016 to 2017 state test scores “is not possible” because that would be “comparing apples to oranges — not apples to apples.”
“We must remember that WHAT was tested, HOW understanding was tested, and LEVELS of performance have changed significantly between the 2016 and 2017 tests,” she stated on the district’s website.
“When we do finally see the numbers, I want you to remember that these new test scores do not mean that our students are less skilled than last year, and they do not mean that our teachers or our schools are less effective ... or that we suddenly lost to the happiness and success of these children we all love.”
Most Oklahoma students lack the basic subject-level knowledge the state now requires, according to scores released Wednesday by the state Education Department.
The 10th-grade U.S. history test was the only exam where a majority — slightly over 50 percent — of students scored as proficient or advanced.
By comparison, 32 percent of 10th-graders in the Oklahoma City district who took the U.S. history test scored proficient or advanced, data shows.
At least 80 percent of fifth-graders, eighthgraders and 10th-graders who tested in science scored below proficient, data shows.
In past years, Oklahoma’s test score system for proficiency were lower than most other states and the National Assessment of Educational Progress standards, which were adopted by the state last year.
The results showed more Oklahoma students being labeled proficient with scores that weren’t considered proficient under the national standards.