TULSA, Okla. - Green Country opponents to high stakes testing are looking ahead to the next session of the Oklahoma legislature for education reforms they hope will reduce the amount of tests students take throughout the school year.
The Oklahoma Coalition Against High Stakes Testing met Tuesday evening at the Brookside Library to meet with local educators and one state legislator about what this coming year holds for students in Oklahoma public schools.
"All of those high stakes. Retention of children, teachers scoring lower on their evaluations, schools receiving less funding. It's the high stakes nature that we really have an issue with," said OCAHST Coordinator Jill Davis.
The group filled a small meeting room at the library where they heard from Jenks Middle School Principal Rob Miller, State Representative Katie Henke (R-Tulsa), Skelly Elementary School Teachers Nikki Jones and Karen Hendron, and parent Regina Kelly. The panel is opposed to high stakes testing in schools and want schools to get back to teaching skills instead of teaching how to test.
Jones and Hendron have gained national attention last fall when they openly stated they would not give their classes required reading assessments and student surveys about their personal lives because they didn't find them beneficial to their students learning.
"I've watched them scratch their face. I've watched them cry. I've seen kids pee their pants. It just goes on and on and on," Jones said.
Last week, the two teachers did not issue the assessments and surveys, and they still have their jobs, for now.
"I'm hopeful that everyone can value a teacher that has a heart for the best interest of her children and see that for what it is," Jones told FOX23. "And not go to drastic ridiculous measures like removing a teacher from the classroom."
Jones and Hendron have been appointed to two committees within Tulsa Public Schools that is currently studying the test and survey necessity and load placed on students.
Regina Kelly supported the testimony given by Hendron and Jones. Her daughter was forced to take a survey, and Kelly said some of the questions on the survey concerned her.
"They wanted to know if I had a gun in my house and how many," Kelly said. "That's just not appropriate for someone her age."
Many parents and teachers in the crowd were concerned that multiple tests would continue to be administered even though the state has taken action that would suspend the third grade mandatory reading test.
Henke said she was sponsoring a bill that would make the reading test suspension permanent. Her bill last year that suspended the tests for two years would expire if it is not renewed this coming session. That means the tests will return if nothing changes at the state level.
All panelists were eager to see how things would change under new State Superintendent of Education Joy Hofmeister.