Joy Hofmeister

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.  

Third grade reading scores came out on Friday, and about 85 percent of the test-takers will be promoted to fourth grade based on the preliminary results released by the State Department of Education.

Under the Oklahoma Reading Sufficiency Act, students must attain at least a “Limited Knowledge” score on the third grade reading test to be automatically promoted to the fourth grade.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

As the school year winds down, administrators are ramping up their search for next year’s teachers. But that search is tougher and more competitive than normal. The state is currently in need of 1,000 teachers, according to State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. But there’s a shallow pool of applicants.

Emily Wendler reports on what’s causing the teacher shortage, what schools are doing to fill in the gaps, and how it’s affecting kids.

Robyn Venable has been a teacher in Oklahoma for 31 years. Currently she teaches life skills at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs.

“I always wanted to be a special education teacher. Ever since the third grade.”  

She says she’s loved it, and it’s been a good run, but it’s time to retire. She had cancer, and that influenced her decision to leave, but she also says the teaching profession has changed over the years and the money is no longer worth the headaches.

The committee tasked with creating Oklahoma's new academic standards following the repeal of Common Core met for the second time on Monday.

As KOSU's Emily Wendler reports, they are trying to learn as much as they can from other's trials and tribulations before embarking on their own journey.

The academic standards steering committee—in charge of creating Oklahoma's new educational requirements for kindergarten through 12th grade—got guidance from three experts who have excelled in creating math and English programs in their own states.

KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about returning Governor Mary Fallin and new Superintendent Joy Hofmeister. 

The trio also discusses a judges ruling which could impact the 2013 GOP overhaul of the Workers' Compensation System and a plan by the Oklahoma Hospital Association to use Medicaid expansion money for low-income uninsured Oklahomans.

KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the upcoming election, voter turnout and any predictions.

A new person is taking the reins of the State Department of Education this January after the current leader was defeated in primary elections.

The race to be the new Superintendent began with seven different candidates, but now it’s down to just two.

Democrat John Cox and Republican Joy Hofmeister are working hard in the final hours to get out the vote on November 4.