by: Michelle Linn Updated:Jenks, Okla. —
Millions of taxpayer dollars and hours that Green Country students spent, preparing for and taking tests, may have been wasted.
Thursday, FOX23 reported Oklahoma's Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi announced 5th & 8th grade writing test scores will not count toward school A-F grades, given by the state.
FOX23 uncovered problems with the writing test scores last month.
"We do fundamentally believe they are inaccurate, and not a reflection of our students' performance," said Jenks Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Lisa Muller.
Dr. Muller told us Jenks was asking the state to re-score the tests, because the results were not accurate.
"It appears that the graders did not apply the rubric accurately," said Dr. Muller.
Earlier this month, when FOX23 asked the Oklahoma State Department of Education how it planned to respond to that request, OKSDE sent us a letter mailed to Norman Public Schools, which also quesitoned the validity of the scores.
The state's letter said the test scores were accurate, the people scoring the tests were adequately trained, and Oklahoma students need to meet high standards.
Dr. Muller argues Jenks students are being instructed to meet high standards.
"Especially in our writing, we have worked with students for a number of years, on using text citing their sources, how do you craft an argument? That's something our teachers have received a great deal of professional development on over the last several years. They've been practicing in their classroom. I can certainly say the scores are not the result of a lack preparation for either the students or the teachers in our district," said Dr. Muller.
FOX23 asked Dr. Muller how frustrating it is that students and teachers spent so much time preparing for and taking tests that are now being thrown out.
"It is frustrating, although I do support the decision to not include the writing scores on the A-F report cards," said Muller.
FOX23 has reported Oklahoma ranks 49th in teacher salaries.
There's a teacher shortage statewide.
Tulsa Public Schools are especially hard hit, with substitutes covering classrooms, even now, during the second week of school.
FOX23 brought you a story earlier this month, from Owasso, about class sizes that are much larger than a state law, passed in 1989, mandated.
We've reported, for the past two years, catastrophic testing failures have forced the state to throw out scores.
So, if teachers are underpaid, classrooms are crowded, and test scores are being thrown out, some are asking why the state is spending hundreds of millions of dollars with testing companies, instead of spending that money in the classroom, on teachers.
"We're spending so much time, effort, energy, and financial resources on testing, on a way that really is not proving to be valuable for students," said Muller.
Superintendent Barresi says writing test scores won't count toward school letter grades, which we should see in the coming days, because they were controversial.
Dr. Muller says, after checking over the tests herself, she's convinced they are also wrong.
Earlier this year, the state ended its multi-million dollar contract with CTB/McGraw Hill, the company that provided these writing tests.
It's the same company that experienced catastrophic testing failures that disrupted testing in 2013 and 2014.