Oklahoma, Where Education Standards Get Swept Down the Plains

​As the big brother of two Oklahoma students, I’m disappointed in their education.

​With only 36 percent of Oklahoma fourth graders proficient in math, and an even more dismal 30 percent proficient in reading, our students are lacking nationally. For those that say, “They get better as they get older, right?” Wrong. By the time Oklahoma students have reached the eighth grade, only 29 percent are proficient in reading, with a measly, jaw-dropping 25 percent proficient in math.

A few years back, the state legislature adopted the now-loathed “Common Core Standards” (CCS) without much public notice or input. After spending four years and millions of dollars prepping local school districts for the change from the dumbing-down “Priority Academic Student Skills” (PASS) standards, a massive storm of political pressure from parents, students, and teachers alike caused the legislature to essentially change their minds and repeal the “Common Core” standards, before they even took effect.

​Now, don’t get me wrong; I am by no means a fan of the CCS. But before you decide to get rid of something, especially after spending millions of dollars on it, shouldn’t you give it a try? Steve Glenn, a high school principal in southwest Oklahoma, said that, “We were ready for the change, and then it didn’t change. And now we’re back. Stick with something; let’s go with it. Tell us what we need to do, and we’re ready to do it.”

​Governor Mary Fallin, a proponent of “Common Core”, who ironically signed the repeal, said, “We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core.” This might be true, but the problem for my brothers, along with every other Oklahoma student, is that in the two years that have elapsed since the repeal, the state hasn’t developed new standards yet. ​Now, even though the CCS were tougher standards than the previous “PASS” standards, CCS was doomed to fail.

​The biggest problem with simply implementing the CCS standards was the roll-out itself. After the state legislature approved CCS, school administrators began rolling them out to all grade levels at the same time, even though the standards are designed to be sequential. This means that an 8th grader will be taught on standards that assume a complete mastery of the standards from Kindergarten to 7th grade, standards that haven’t been taught yet. A common sense roll-out would have gone one year at a time, starting with Kindergarten, and allowing more time for our teachers and administrators to better grasp the standards they will teach.

​But, there’s an even bigger problem.

​Today, a high school diploma is designed to allow you to meet the criteria needed to attend a four-year university. The CCS only is designed to have students meet the criteria for a two-year university. This greatly places our students at a disadvantage with having to take remedial classes their first semester instead of taking the general education classes, adding an extra semester, if not year, to the basic and needed four-year degree.

​One of the largest problems my state faces today is less federal funding due to this repeal. One of the sticking points of CCS, as given by the Federal Government, was that states could only add to the standards, not change them. So, when the state legislature repealed CCS, the feds stripped the state of its “No Child Left Behind” waiver, which took federal funding away from our education department. This in turn has made it harder for our schools to create new standards that would allow our students to excel far beyond what CCS was ever going to do.

So, for another year, new education standards will continue to be swept down the plains of Oklahoma.

Cover Photo Source: http://bit.ly/1SwQLoP.

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