State Superintendent Janet Barresi's announcement that Oklahoma will go it alone on its next generation of standardized tests has left educators scratching their heads about the future, but some of her claims behind her reasoning have made them furious.Jonah Edelman's in Oklahoma?!?! I'll bet he tells the cattle there not to worry as they walk into the slaughterhouse...
Meanwhile, the child advocacy group Stand for Children Oklahoma expressed concern that Barresi's decision could undermine the implementation of new Common Core state standards here if the state doesn't have a "quality and rigorous assessment that has comparability with other states."
But on Monday, Barresi reversed herself, saying she was heeding widespread concerns about additional test-taking hours that would be involved in PARCC assessments, along with her own about the technological readiness of state public schools and higher anticipated costs.Ooo, I know! Pick me, pick me! The answer is...
A recent state survey found that only 33 percent of school sites in Oklahoma are technologically prepared for PARCC testing.
And Barresi claims that the vast majority of technical problems public schools across the state experienced with testing this spring were proof that Oklahoma does not yet have the capacity for the volume of online testing required for PARCC tests.
"If you look at what happened with testing this year - kids getting screens frozen, knocked off the test - those were technical issues that were from the districts' end of things," she said Monday.
"(The testing vendor) crashed for two days because of server problems, but almost every bit of the rest of it was due to district issues. I'm not pointing fingers, but it is the reality."
But schools statewide have reported that their difficulties were with the state's new testing vendor, CTB McGraw-Hill, not with their own technology.
"It's shocking that she is placing the blame on schools. She had everything to do with the selection of this vendor, and now she is protecting the vendor by saying it's the schools' fault," Tulsa Superintendent Keith Ballard said.
He said Barresi's reversal on PARCC assessments smacks of "political grand-standing," given the fact that she has just begun campaigning for re-election.
"I find this whole getting out of PARCC perplexing. While I have said there's too much time spent on assessments and I am not in favor, necessarily, that we stay in PARCC, I support Common Core, and I don't see this abrupt move resolving anything," Ballard said.
"I see little real leadership being shown because there is no thought given to where does that leave us."
Bonnie Rogers, a spokeswoman for Jenks Public Schools, said patrons and educators have voiced concern about the time devoted to state-mandated testing.
But she said Jenks school officials "would disagree with Superintendent Barresi's assertion that school districts did not have the expertise to prepare for the amount of technology needed to administer online tests."
Sand Springs Superintendent Lloyd Snow said he agrees with Barresi's decision about PARCC but was aggravated "about her once again giving most of the blame to local school districts."
"I can't help but wonder if this is all political posturing," he said. "I am worried about the next steps. Many things from the state Department of Education are unpredictable and unexplainable."
The Oklahoma Education Association recently issued a report detailing schools' difficulties with CTB-McGraw Hill and calling for 2013 standardized tests to be invalidated. The teachers association called the testing vendor "grossly deficient" and detailed failures that had nothing to do with online testing, including mistakes on paper tests, significant delays and mix-ups in their delivery to schools and even practice tests that weren't aligned with the actual tests.
"At what point is the state superintendent of public instruction going to quit blaming public schools and hold this corporate testing company responsible?" OEA President Linda Hampton asked.
Barresi, you see, is one of Jeb! Bush's Chiefs For Change. And there are two groups Jeb!'s Chiefs never, ever hold to account:
State Superindentist* Janet Barresi, like all her fellow Chiefs, loves to tell local school districts how to run their schools. What she doesn't enjoy nearly as much is taking the fall when her untested, unvetted, poorly planned ideas blow up in her face.
Reminds me of one of the other Bushes...
"No one could have imagined" on-line state tests wouldn't work...
* h/t Claudi S in the comments; great nickname!