Oklahoma's end-of-instruction tests for high school seniors prove difficult for college freshman

TULSA - Starting last year, Oklahoma high school seniors were required to pass a series of tests in order to graduate.

Not everyone did.

So we wanted to know just how tough these end-of-instruction exams are.

We obtained a sample of the questions and recruited 16 students from Tulsa Community College's Academic Strategies class. It's a class aimed at getting primarily incoming freshmen more prepared for college.

They will take our test; a sampling of questions from the end-of-instruction exams now required by Oklahoma law in order for students to graduate.

It's an unscientific experiment, a very low-stakes approach to get a sense of what these high-stakes tests are all about.

There are 10 Department of Education sample questions: Four in Algebra, two English questions, three History and one Geometry.

After spending 10 to 15 minutes on the questions, they are graded.

The results -- all 16 students received an F average, a failing grade.

"We need more standards," says Billy Riphohn, a 2011 Bishop Kelly graduate. He passed our mock test but adds, "You see a lot of people aren't passing (EOI tests), which leads me to think maybe it needs more time to develop."

The EOI exams have come under criticism after an April survey showed roughly 2,000 Oklahoma students had not passed enough of the tests to get a diploma.

That, coupled with delays in releasing results and miscommunication on appeals results, left many questioning the mandate.

Tulsa Classroom Teacher Association President Lynn Stockley believes too much testing overall is taking away from the classroom but especially with EOI exams when most colleges focus on ACT and SAT scores.

"I don't know of anyone who really cares what those end-of-instruction grades are, except for the state of Oklahoma who says you can't graduate unless you pass all of them," said Stockley.

In our test, the highest score was 90 percent.

The lowest was 20 percent.

The majority got half of the questions correct.

Most said they simply hadn't studied subjects like Algebra recently.

"It was difficult, but I kind of expected that," said TCC Freshman Kyle Roper.

Recent Owasso graduate Rachel Mock got 8 of 10 correct.

"It's all in context," said Mock. "You just guess and you'll get it right."

But in real life, "just guessing" is a big gamble when these tests could mean the difference between furthering an education and, what critics fear most, students just giving up.

See the questions below:

From ALGEBRA I

Question 1. Which sentence could be written algebraically as n (equals) 6n - 4?

F) A number is 4 less than the product of the number and 6.

G) A number is 4 minus the product of 6 and the number.

H) Six times a number is 4 less than the number.

J) Six times the difference of a number and 4 is equal to the number.

Question 2. A sign above a sweater says "Take an additional 50% off." The price tag shows a price that is 40% off the regular price. What percent of the regular price is the discounted price (the price after both discounts)?

A) 20 percent

B) 30 percent

C) 60 percent

D) 90 percent

Question 3. Given:

x + y (equals) 4

2x + 3y (equals) -2

What is the x-value of the solution to this system of equations?

A) 2

B) 6

C) 10

D) 14

Question 4. What happens to the y-intercept of the equation y (equals) x when the equation is changed to y (equals) x + 4 ?

F) The y-intercept does not change.

G) The y-intercept changes from 0 to 4.

H) The y-intercept changes from 0 to -4.

J) The y-intercept becomes equal to the x-intercept.

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From ENGLISH II

A Birthday Challenge

1 Dangling her feet over the edge of the cave, Janelle put on her

2 backpack, equipped with water, extra batteries, an energy bar, a light

3 windbreaker_things she thought she wouldn't need. Still, her friend Ethan

4 wouldn't let her go without a safety kit. Ethan had promised her an hour to

5 herself and then he would follow. He had pledged her that much time

6 alone only because it was her birthday, not because he understood how

7 important this experience was for her. She set her watch to chime on the

8 hour. In thirty minutes, the alarm would sound, and she would know Ethan

9 would not be far behind.

10 Janelle lowered herself into the gaping limestone mouth in the hillside.

11 Cautiously, she maneuvered from foothold to foothold, stone to rock,

12 before her boot touched the yielding softness of soil. A creature skittered

13 within centimeters of her foot. Janelle stood frozen, her heart pounding, as

14 if she were face to face with a bear, instead of what she knew must be

15 some tiny creature. The splash of a frog, vanishing into the protection of

16 the water, reassured her.

Question 5. The main character Janelle can be described as:

A) a lost adventurer.

B) a curious explorer.

C)

a careless planner.

D) a thoughtful friend.

Question 6. What is the best change, if any, to make to herself in line 5?

F) herself,

G) herself:

H) herself—

J) no change

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From U.S. HISTORY:

Question 7. The "separate but equal" doctrine established by the Supreme Court in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) upheld the use of:

A) Jim Crow laws.

B) voting rights restrictions.

C) forced busing of students.

D) Affirmative Action programs.

Question 8: Advocates of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 generally overlooked the contributions Chinese immigrants had made to the:

F) settlement of farmlands on the Great Plains.

G) defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War.

H) defeat of Native Americans in the 1870s.

J) settlement of the American West.

"Despite a superior geographical location, the United States is . . . unready to assert its influence . . . . Whether they will or not, Americans must now begin to look outward. The growing production of the country demands it." —Admiral Alfred T. Mahan, 1890

"The United States have always protested . . . international law which permits the (domination) of the weak by the strong. A self-governing state cannot accept sovereignty over an unwilling people." —the American Anti-Imperialist League, 1890

Question 9. The quotations are arguments for and against the:

A) formation of a league of nations to prevent future wars.

B) expansion of United States political and economic power abroad.

C) restriction of immigrants to protect the jobs of domestic workers.

D) creation of a United States agency to provide relief for natural disaster victims.

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From GEOMETRY:

Question 10. Two holiday gifts are in the shape of cubes. The ratio of the side lengths of the gifts is 3 to 1. If the side length of the larger gift is 12 inches, what is the volume of the smaller gift?

V (equals) s(cubed)

A) 27 cu in.

B) 36 cu in.

C) 64 cu in.

D) 1,728 cu in.

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Answers:

1-F

2-B

3-D

4-G

5-B

6-F

7-A

8-J

9-B

10-C

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