End-of-instruction tests still weighing on minds of Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY - Some superintendents from around Green Country are looking for relief for new graduation requirements, weeks before graduation.

Several met at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

They are concerned because this is the first year end-of-instruction tests will be mandatory for graduation.

Jase Purcell, tenth grader at Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, was also at the meeting in the Capitol. He's concerned the testing will hold him back from graduation.

"I should be able to graduate, I'm an A-B student and I have worked hard," said Purcell.

Purcell says he's not a good test taker.

"I've taken three this year and I've failed two already," said Purcell about his end-of-instruction tests.

The testing requirements are part of ACE, or "Achieving Classroom Excellence." The program became law in 2005 and students have been taking the tests since, but they haven't been a graduation requirement until now.

"We need to be able to demonstrate, a diploma in Oklahoma, a high school diploma has real objective meaningful value," said Damon Gardenhire, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Gardenhire says the test will help improve Oklahoma education and hold students and schools accountable. He says there are other options for students who don't perform well on tests.

"They can take the alternate test, they can fill out a portfolio to demonstrate they understand the subject matter,"  said Gardenhire.

Superintendents from Jenks, Broken Arrow, Union and others want the tests waived for this first year, because the required oversight committee is not in place.

"We believe it should pushed it back for a year is the proper procedure at this time, in order that the oversight can then be put in place in the next school year," said Superintendent Kirby Lehman of Jenks Public Schools.

Gardenhire says officials with the Department of Education won't budge on this. They say it's only up to lawmakers to change this law. They will not be waiving this requirement this year.

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