Joy Hofmeister

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

Oklahoma’s new English Language Arts and Math standards are finally complete, and have been approved by the State Board of Education. They now await the legislature’s approval. 

The Department of Education was tasked with creating new math and English standards after the Oklahoma legislature repealed the Common Core curriculum in 2014.

Flickr / Elizabeth Albert

Due to Oklahoma’s revenue failure, the state Board of Education was mandated to cut expenses to K-12 education by $47 million. At a special board meeting held Thursday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said these cuts could seriously impact some school districts.

“We do anticipate that some school districts will have a very hard time remaining open,” she said.

Hofmeister said most districts will take a hit, but the ones that heavily rely on state aid will hurt the most. The reduction impacts the remaining six months of this school year.

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

State Board of Education members say further study is needed before they make any permanent changes to the school A-F report card system. They say they want to get it right this time.

The A-F system of rating schools in Oklahoma has been a contentious issue since it began a few years ago. This year, the State Department of Education was mandated to study it, and look for solutions to fixing it.

Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is requesting an additional $78 million for next year's education budget, despite projections of decreasing state revenue.

She says the Department of Education will need an addition $47 million to keep up with student population growth, and an addition $30 million for health care benefits for teachers that are mandated by law.

Hofmeister sais she realizes the state is hurting financially, but budget cuts, even a flat budget for education, would mean larger classes. And, she says, the cutting of some courses.

Education officials around the state are praising Congress for approving the Every Student Succeeds Act. State officials believe this new education law will correct many of the weaknesses in the No Child Left Behind Act.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister says she is hopeful Congress will repeal No Child Left Behind. She says repealing the massive federal education law would give states much more autonomy in identifying failing schools.

If the law is repealed, Hofmeister says the state would use the A through F report card system to identify failing schools in Oklahoma.

"Now, we are at a time in our state's history, that we recognize we have work to do to make a stronger accountability system for our schools."

U.S. Department of Education

Is the state’s third grade reading test taking attention away from other subjects? Test data suggests it could be. When legislators amended the Reading Sufficiency Act in 2011—they made the test a high stakes test. As a result, many teachers overly emphasize reading in the younger grades because they’re scared their students will fail, and get held back. 

When lawmakers amended the Reading Sufficiency Act, they wanted to ensure that all kids could read on grade level by the third grade. They said this is when kids switch from learning to read, to reading to learn.

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

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The State Department of Education wants more Oklahoma kids to go to college. So they’re launching a pilot program that would make it easier for all students to apply. 

The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, announced the Department's plan to make the college entrance exam, the ACT, free for all high school juniors for the following year.

Education reporter Emily Wendler spoke with the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, about some of the more pressing issues in Oklahoma education.

At the top of the list was the teacher shortage, the new academic standards, and the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in Washington. 

The ESEA was last reauthorized in 2002 by then President George W. Bush, who renamed it the No Child Left Behind Act. This law was meant to make sure low-income students got the same education as everyone else. It implemented mandatory testing and rated schools and teachers based on those testing results. This has been a contentious issue for many educators across the nation—including Superintendent Hofmeister.