Education

Flickr / Brian Cantoni

According to data recently released by the ACT, or American College Test, only 22 percent of Oklahoma students were ready for college courses in math, English, social science and biology when they graduated from high school.  Nationally, 28 percent of students met the benchmark scores in all four subjects.

Oklahoma students have maintained an average score of 20.7 on the test for the past five years. Nationwide, scores have gone down slightly since 2011. The national average for 2015 was 21.0

Here's a number to help frame the debate over whether middle schools and high schools should start later in the morning: A study finds that only 18 percent of these public schools start class at 8:30 a.m. or later, as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education held a town hall meeting Tuesday night—and invited the public to comment on the newly proposed state academic standards.

The new academic framework has been crafted to replace the Common Core standards that Gov. Mary Fallin repealed last year. Educators gave short presentations—then opened the floor up for questions and comments.

Math teacher Sherry Read's classroom is a total mess. The students are gone for the summer, and light fixtures dangle from the ceiling. The floor has a layer of dust. Down the hallway, workers make a racket while they renovate the school, which dates back to the 1890s. They're working in what has become an archaeological site.

The Washington Post looks at the variation in education spending across the nation and maps out per pupil spending by state. Oklahoma is currently ranked 47th in spending at $7,672 per pupil.

Emily Wendler

One way or another, the third grade reading test will be different next school year. The reading committees that lessen the high-stakes nature of the test are slated to dissolve at the end of this school year. But there's a bill in the legislature that could extend them for another three years. However, with that bill comes further changes to the test.

Under Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act, the third-grade reading test is a high-stakes test. Meaning, if students don’t do well, they could be held back.

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There are two bills idling in the legislature that would address what many have called excessive testing in Oklahoma’s schools. But the two bills are fundamentally different.

School children in Oklahoma – and across the country—take quite a few tests these days.

Some believe - too many.

It was under this same premise that Representative David Derby wrote House Bill 1622.

"I got pulled in to the principal’s office, quite literally in Owasso, from one of the counselors there at the high school. And she said, Representative Derby, we are testing our kids too much."

Last fall, the Office of Civil Rights filed a complaint against Oklahoma City Public Schools, saying the district suspended black and Hispanic students at a higher rate than others. This prompted the district to investigate their discipline practices. The results of that investigation came out Monday. 

Rob Neu, who is the superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools, told reporters on Tuesday  that the results of the discipline audit were worse than he expected.

“When I see the number of students suspended and the length of time that they’re being suspended—I have great concern.”

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Oklahoma has gained 40,000 new students since 2008, but funding from the legislature hasn’t kept up with the growth. More students and less money means some schools are running out of space and have been dipping deep in to their savings accounts. They are making do, but it’s at a tipping point for some districts. Either they get more funding and add more space, or the class sizes get bigger and bigger.

THE NEED FOR MORE SPACE

Weatherford Public Schools in Custer County—Western Oklahoma—is bursting at the seams with kids. Normally, the district gets 20 new students a year, but lately they’ve been topping 100.

“We’ve filled up every closet, nook, and cranny in the district and we’re just at a point where we don’t have anymore space,” said Matt Holder, the Superintendent at Weatherford Public Schools.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

50,000 people were expected to be at the education rally at the capitol on Monday, but nowhere near that many came. However the teachers that were there made their presence known.

About 5,000 people showed up for the education rally at the State Capitol on Monday.

Most were teachers and school administrators who came to tell lawmakers that their shrinking budgets are making it difficult to give kids a quality education, and they need more funding.

Janet Weaver, a teacher at Hartshorne High school, says sometimes her school doesn’t have enough money for even the most basic things.

“I buy pencils for my students, I buy paper for my students… if they don’t have a pencil they can’t do my work,” she said.

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