SDE has no state testing vendor

by: Michelle Linn Updated:

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BROKEN ARROW, Okla. - In less than a month, students will walk through the doors at Broken Arrow High School, and the State Department of Education tells FOX23 they still do not know who will provide standardized tests for thousands of students across the state this school year.

Broken Arrow Public Schools district leaders tell us that's not a shock.

"Given that this decision was just made a few weeks ago, no I’m not surprised.  Will it cause some challenges? Absolutely, but I just hope we take the time and do it right, and do not get in a hurry and get ahead of ourselves. We know what it looks like to give tests to 20,000 students. The time it takes to take a test. Is the vendor going to be able to meet the needs that we have as a state?" said Broken Arrow Public Schools Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Janet Dunlop.

Dunlop tells FOX23 that not having a state testing vendor selected yet may be stressful for some smaller districts, but Broken Arrow Public Schools isn't too worried.

"We’re doing a lot of things right, so it’s not going to affect us a lot at this point. We do progress monitoring with every single student in our schools. Throughout the year we will periodically do short little assessments. They indicate whether a student is on level with their peers or not. We realize this is something very, very important, as far as how we drive our instruction, so we chose to allocate our resources toward this," said Dunlop.

She admits, it's different for smaller districts, since the state does not fund those assessment programs.

It can be harder for those districts to see if students are falling behind, throughout the year.

In Broken Arrow Public Schools, Dunlop says there are no surprises come state testing time, because teachers already have a good idea how students will score. 

Another thing Broken Arrow Public Schools does, outside of state testing, is spend $16,000 each year to make sure every sophomore takes the PSAT.

"A lot of students who may not have seen themselves as college students will take the PSAT and do really well on it and suddenly they go, 'wow I really may go to college.'  The novelty of the ACT series, the PSAT and SAT series, is that it gives an indication of how Oklahoma is performing compared to other states. Just like athletes, we can coach them up, give them great test taking strategies, fill in some of the gaps and have a better success rate," said Dunlop.

This week dozens of students who scored well on the PSAT, as sophomores, are spending their summer days inside Broken Arrow High School for BA Scholars Camp.

They are being coached so they ace the test when they take it again in the fall.

Dunlop tells us many could qualify as National Merit Scholars and could receive college scholarships.