OKC district test scores re­flect dra­matic drop

Un­der new stan­dards, 80%-plus were not pro­fi­cient in English, math

The Oklahoman - - FRONT PAGE - BY TIM WILLERT Staff Writer twillert@ok­la­homan.com

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.

No com­par­i­son

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.

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