Oklahoma reading and math standards to change from Common Core to PASS until March 2016

TULSA - As students head back to school a re-write of the state’s math and reading standards is about to get underway.

Those new standards will replace the Common Core standards dropped by the state legislature at the end of its session last spring. Dropping it means students this school year and next will be held to old state standards until new ones can be drawn up and approved.

Brody Monks, a 6th grader in Tulsa Public Schools says he is confident he can learn what is expected of him by Oklahoma's education standards.

According to the Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, it’s critical that teachers also know what standards will be used to measure their students. 

“In TPS they’re required to put the standards on the lesson plans but if you don’t know what those standards are you can’t do any plans,” said Patti Ferguson-Palmer, President of the TCTA.

There are no federal standards for what children should learn in a particular grade level.  Each state sets its own standards.  For years, that meant what students were required to learn varied widely between states.  In 2009, the National Governor Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers along with teacher and parent input developed the Common Core standards which states could then choose to follow. Those standards set expectations for each grade and would be consistent among the states that adopted Common Core.

“The Common Core standards were very application-based, said Tulsa Public Schools Chief Accountability Officer, Chris Johnson. “Last year, a lot of districts were in the middle of transitioning to the Common Core expecting to be tested on the Common Core standards for this upcoming school year.”

Because Oklahoma dropped the Common Core standards schools will now go back to teaching Priority Academic Student Standards. “PASS standards were more recall-based and so more factual. The Common Core standards actually required students to apply the knowledge,” said Johnson.

“The PASS standards are very weak in my opinion. They’re not college and career ready standards as is evidenced by our high remediation rates in the state,” said Janet Baressi, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Fordham Institute compared Oklahoma’s PASS standards and Common Core and found each has strength and weaknesses. 

Fordham Institute Study on Reading:

“Oklahoma’s standards are better organized and more clearly presented than Common Core. The objectives are generally free of jargon, describe measurable expectations, and clearly illustrate growth and progression of rigor expected through the grades. Oklahoma uses more standard-specific examples to help clarify expectations and treats literary genres and their characteristics in more detail. The Oklahoma standard also prioritizes essential writing genres by grade spans, which Common Core does not. 

On the other hand, Oklahoma fails to include any expectations for Kindergarten, while those presented in the Common Core are generally stronger. In addition, the Common Core addresses the analysis of informational text in more detail than the Oklahoma standards. Common Core also includes a list specifying the quality and complexity of student reading as well as sample student writing. Such enhancements would significantly improve Oklahoma’s standards.”

Fordham Institute Study on Mathematics:

“Oklahoma’s standards are generally clear and well presented.  Standards are briefly stated and frequently include examples, making them easier to read and follow than Common Core.  In addition, the high school content is organized so that standards addressing specific topics, such as quadratic functions, are grouped together in a mathematically coherent way. The organization of the Common Core is more difficult to navigate, in part because standards dealing with related topics sometimes appear separately rather than together.

While Oklahoma’s standards provide well-organized high school courses they are missing some of the advanced content for high school that is covered in Common Core.  In addition, the coverage of arithmetic displays some serious weaknesses.  Common Core explicitly requires standard methods and procedures, and the inclusion of these of these important details would enhance Oklahoma’s standards.”

Oklahoma’s new education standards are expected to be drawn up and adopted by March of 2016.  The old PASS standards will be the stop gap measure in place until the new standards are approved.

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