Pawhuska officials evaluate test data

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital
Janet Neufeld

Pawhuska Public Schools has received the results of the Oklahoma School Testing Program assessments administered in spring 2017. Given in grades 3-8 and 10, these tests measured knowledge and skills from the new and comprehensive Oklahoma Academic Standards, which were adopted in spring 2016 and first taught and assessed last school year.

Additional results include those for science in grades five, eight and 10 and U.S. history in high school.

The Pawhuska Public Schools will be releasing information regarding student test scores in soon.

“New assessments create the opportunity to assess important education standards and renorm curriculum and instruction. We look forward to sharing results with our school community,” said Byron Cowan, Pawhuska District Test Coordinator.

Providing a clear-eyed look at how Oklahoma student academic performance compares nationally, the results reflect alignment to critical national benchmarks, including the ACT, SAT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as “the Nation’s Report Card.”

“Our faculty and staff have worked hard to teach new Oklahoma standards and prepare for new assessments. We will be working with our staff to disseminate the results, study baseline data, the potential to realign instruction to planned student growth and position our students to be career and college ready,” Dr. Janet Neufeld, superintendent, said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister noted the assessments represent “a total reset” that is incomparable to previous years.

“Over the past three years, Oklahoma has undertaken transformational work needed to ensure all of our students are prepared for the next steps after high school graduation,” she said.

“We have eliminated a culture of overtesting that robbed classrooms of valuable instructional time and failed to lead to academic gains. In a teacher-driven process, we developed academic standards and assessments that accurately reflect the skills and knowledge our kids will need for college or the workforce of the future.”

There are a number of reasons for the changes. The job market, both nationally and on the state level, is changing rapidly. Estimates suggest that by 2025, only 23 percent of Oklahoma jobs will be available to those with no more than a high school diploma. Currently, the number is double that, pointing to an imminent “workforce gap” that educators must work to close.

On the ACT test of college readiness, only 25 and 37 percent of Oklahoma’s high school seniors met ACT benchmarks in math and reading/English language arts, respectively. As a result, Oklahoma families spend more than $22 million annually on remedial college coursework, none of which earns college credit.

For the spring 2017 test results, far fewer students will score proficient or advanced on the tests, the expected result of more comprehensive and challenging academic standards and assessments. The bar has been raised, with the definition of Proficient now meaning on track for college or career readiness.

Hofmeister said the increased expectations and focus on post-secondary success are critical to Oklahoma’s future and cautions against any type of apples to oranges comparisons between this year’s results and those of previous years.

“The numbers in this week’s reports may be startlingly different than what families are accustomed to seeing,” she said. “They represent a new beginning and an important baseline for student and school growth and improvement over the next several years as Oklahoma continues to take critical steps to meet our overarching goal of ensuring academic success for all students.”

— Pawhuska Public Schools