Claremore Daily Progress

July 12, 2013

County superintendents react to Barresi’s remarks on tests

Mark Friedel
Staff Writer

CLAREMORE —

State Superintendent Janet Barresi recently faulted Oklahoma school districts for difficulties with the statewide testing in April, saying besides server failures, “almost every bit of the rest of it was due to district issues.”
Claremore Superintendent Mike McClaren said Claremore schools made sure the district’s network had the highest connection speed with cyber security installed to prevent any corruptions from occurring.
“Some of the smaller districts who have funding issues may have had bandwidth problems, but (Barresi’s) statement was blanketly not accurate,” he said. 
McClaren said the problem came about because vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill was not able to handle the capacity of students taking the test at one time.
“I can’t speak for every school but we made all of the necessary updates we needed to make for testing,” said Verdigris Superintendent Mike Payne. “We’ve had problems with McGraw-Hill in the past, so the decision to renew the contract is questionable.”
Barresi’s decision to renew the agreement came after deciding not to challenge McGraw-Hill legally for the state-wide system failures.
“State schools are still under the A-F rating system and the scale for that system includes key components from the EOI testing under optimal conditions,” said McClaren. “How valid are the results from last year with all of the distractions that occurred? Kids get to a point where they really worked hard on a math problem and then his/her screen goes down.”
Barresi announced last week that the State Department of Education would develop their own standardized test and not join 20 other states in the consortium Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
She said the reason being is because she is concerned about the technological readiness of most Oklahoma public schools.
Oologah Superintendent Rob Armstrong said the district was already prepared to implement the PARCC testing. 
“We were looking at PARCC blue prints and assessments. Resources, staff time and money had been put toward PARCC as well,” said Armstrong. “It’s unfortunate. The question now is will there be enough time to develop another test before the 2014-15 common core implementation. We can’t afford to have the confidence of public education questioned with all of the issues going on right now.”
Payne said the federally-funded PARCC testing could have been administered to schools the way it was, but now he doesn’t know what is going to happen with state-wide testing.
“(The State Board of Education) doesn’t like to keep us in the loop. I wish (state board members) would work more with local school districts as this is a significant change in the assessment,” he said.