Oklahoma families this week will receive the results of the Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP) assessments administered in spring of 2017.
Given in grades 3-8 and 10th, these tests measured knowledge and skills from the new and comprehensive Oklahoma Academic Standards, which were adopted in the spring of 2016 and first taught and assessed last school year.
Additional results include those for science in grades 5, 8 and 10, and U.S. history in high school.
Providing a clear-eyed look at how Oklahoma student academic performance compares nationally, the results reflect alignment to critical national benchmarks, including the ACT, SAT and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwide known as “the nation’s report card”.
State superintendent of public instruction Joy Hofmeister noted that the assessments represent a “total rest” that is incomparable to previous years.
“Over the past three years, Oklahoma has undertaken transformational work needed to ensure all of our students are prepared for the next steps after high school graduation,” she said. “We have eliminated a culture of overtesting that robbed classrooms of valuable instructional time and failed to lead to academic gains. In a teacher-driven process, we developed academic standards and assessments that accurately reflect the skills and knowledge our kids will need for college or the workforce of the future.”
There are a number of reasons for the changes. The job market, both nationally and on the state level, is changing rapidly. Estimates suggest that by 2025, only 23 percent of Oklahoma jobs will be available to those with no more than a high school diploma.
Currently, the number is double that, pointing to an imminent “workforce gap” that educators must work to close.
On the ACT test of college readiness, only 25 and 37 percent of Oklahoma’s high school seniors met ACT benchmarks in math and reading/English language arts, respectively. As a result, Oklahoma families spend more than $22 million annually on remedial college coursework, none of which earns college credits.
For the spring 2017 test results, far fewer students will score proficient or advanced on the tests, the expected result of more comprehensive and challenging academic standards and assessments. The bar has been raised, with the definition of proficient now meaning on track for college or career readiness.
Hofmeister said the increased expectations and focus on postsecondary success are critical to Oklahoma’s future and cautions against any type of apples to oranges comparison between this year’s results and those of previous years.
The numbers in this week’s reports may be startlingly different than what families are accustomed to seeing,” she said. “They represent a new beginning and an important baseline for student and school growth and improvement over the next several years as Oklahoma continues to take critical steps to meet our overarching goal of ensuring academic success for all students.”
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