While we happily reported the approval of two bills purported to eliminate state-created exams last week, we have since learned the picture might not be as rosy.
The Senate Education Committee today approved a Senate Committee substitute for House Bill 2527, which will now be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The original bill would have provided for the State Board of Education (BOE) to select a nationally recognized test to meet graduation requirements.
The Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee is scheduled to hear the bill at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday.
However the following language does not appear in the bill approved today:
The student assessment system shall measure Oklahoma public school students’ level of mastery of the state subject matter standards adopted by the Board. The rules adopted by the Board providing for a system of student assessment shall allow boards of education of school districts to use local assessments, which are nationally recognized, for students at the secondary level in place of a state-mandated assessment. Local assessments approved by the Board and used in place of a state-adopted assessment shall be considered state-mandated assessments.
Elimination of this language could mean that schools will not be able to use alternate assessments, such as the ACT, in place of student End-Of-Instruction exams.
Additional language that appeared in the original version of the bill, but not in the one approved today, includes:
Students who score ten percent (10%) above the cut scores approved by the State Board of Education for the American College
Testing Program (ACT), the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), ACT Plan or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) alternate assessments shall be deemed to have satisfactorily demonstrated mastery of academic content standards in the subject areas for which alternative assessments have been approved and shall be exempt from taking the state-mandated assessments in the subject areas of Algebra II, English III, Geometry or United States History.
State law currently allows students to use the aforementioned alternate tests in place of their state mandated EOI exams. While it may be possible that the language would have duplicated an existing law, and was therefore unnecessary, it is also possible that this current bill may supersede existing state testing laws. If that is the case, then the removal of this language could prevent students from being exempt from EOIs based on alternate test scores.
The bill approved today states:
By no later than December 31, 2016, the State Board of Education shall adopt rules providing for the adoption, proper implementation and administration of a statewide system of student assessments in compliance with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as reauthorized and amended by P.L. No. 114-95, also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The statewide student assessment system shall include assessments in English Language Arts or Reading and Mathematics each year in grades three through eight and at least once in high school, during the grade span of nine through twelve. In addition the statewide student assessment system shall include assessments in Science not less than once during each grade span of three through five, six through nine and ten through twelve.
The statewide student assessment system shall be based on the Oklahoma Academic Standards as adopted by the Board and which prepare students for college and careers.
Addtionally, the bill states:
The State Board of Education shall develop high school graduation assessment requirements which students shall meet in order to graduate from a public high school with a standard diploma. The assessment requirements may include the use of nationally recognized assessments, according a Senate Committee Substitute for HB 2527 created today.
This language does not seem to give the SBOE or schools the power to replace EOIs entirely, but instead sounds as if the SBOE can add nationally recognized assessments to those provided for in the language above.
The substituted HB 2527 tasks the Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability (EQA) with determining “the cut scores for the performance levels on the end-of-instruction tests developed (on) … all statewide assessments.”
In related news, Senate Bill 1170, which has been referred to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee would allow “school districts may apply to the State Board of Education for approval to administer an assessment or assessments other than the assessment or assessments adopted pursuant to subsection B of this section.” The A&B Committee is scheduled to hear SB 1170 at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.