Pawhuska principal: Be ready to test

Robert Smith

The principal of Pawhuska Elementary School cautioned the district Board of Education in a Monday night meeting that preparations must be made to move ahead soon with standardized testing of students.

Pawhuska Elementary serves students in grades 3-6.

Principal Byron Cowan told the board that an extension the state Department of Education has granted until April 27 for testing of students in grades 3-8 has been characterized by state education officials as the only extension that will be forthcoming.

“They were adamant that there would not be another extension,” Cowan said. If Pawhuska teachers are out of their classrooms the rest of this week to lobby the Oklahoma Legislature for improved public school funding, the district will need to begin testing next Monday and administer standardized exams to a couple of grade levels each day, he said.

It should be possible, starting Monday, for some teachers to help with standardized testing that must be carried out if the district is to continue receiving federal funding, while other teachers are able to travel to the state Capitol to lobby the Oklahoma Legislature for improved public school funding, Cowan said.

Key elements of preparations to move ahead with standardized testing will be the transportation and feeding of students, Cowan said. The school district will need to contact parents and ask if their children will need rides, he said.

He also voiced understanding for the importance of keeping up pressure on the Legislature to provide sufficient funding for education.

“If we cave now, we might not get anything for the next 20 years,” Cowan said.

Sixth-grade math teacher Lynn Fuller expressed a similar sentiment during comments to the board.

“It is so important that we continue to do this,” she said. “If we want full funding, we have to stay with it. It has turned into a huge national thing.”

District administrators and board members encouraged teachers to keep up their efforts to persuade the Legislature.

“It will happen. Just stay the course,” Superintendent Janet Neufeld told the numerous teachers on-hand for the board session.

Later, as the meeting closed, board member Tom Boone commented: “Teachers, keep up your good fight. We support you.”

The board Monday night tabled agenda items regarding any amendments to work stoppage dates, make-up days for this spring, and the school calendar for 2018-19.