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Oklahoma Student Test Scores Are Slight Improvement Over Last Year's


The Department of Education released statewide student assessment scores at Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting and the results show an overall upward trend of improvement. But a slight one. 

Overall, Oklahoma students are performing better at reading than they are in math. On average, 70 percent of third through eighth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 65 percent of students are scoring proficient in math.

These tests are mandated by state and federal law, and are taken by students at the end of every school year.  Students who score at the “proficient” or “advanced” level on each test have met or exceeded learning standards.

Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, acknowledged that the state had more work to do on improving math scores. She said 39 percent of Oklahoma students that go on to college have to take remedial math courses once they get there.

“There is a huge gap in where we perform at the state level and readiness for a college or career,” Hofmeister said. “And that is something that we are going to have to address with resources, as well as time, high standards, and a continuum in a stable education environment and that is something that we have not had in our state.”

When comparing this year’s results to last years, math scores increased for grades three and five, decreased for grades four and six, and saw no change in 7th and 8th grade. Third grade students demonstrated the largest improvement in statewide Math tests, jumping from 62 percent passing in 2015 to 66 percent passing in 2016.

Fourth-grade math scores decreased from 72 percent in 2015 to 69 percent in 2016, and sixth grade saw a slight drop from 67 percent in 2015 to 66 percent in 2016.

Superintendent Hofmeister said the number of students scoring proficient on the 8th grade math test is considerably lower than those in the other grades because many advanced eighth-grade math students are exempt from the test, and instead take the high school End-of-Instruction exam.

This year’s reading scores for third and fifth-grade students show improvement, while scores dropped slightly for fourth and seventh graders. The number of third-grade students scoring at least proficient increased to 72 percent from 69 percent, and fifth-grade students, who were the first third-grade group to study under the Reading Sufficiency Act, saw an increase of 6 percent of students at or above the proficient mark. Fourth-grade proficient reading scores decreased slightly from 70 percent to 68 percent.

The percentage of third-grade students who met the criteria for the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA), which plays a role in determining if a third-grader needs intensive reading remediation before advancing to fourth grade, has shown a steady increase from 83 percent in 2014 and 85 percent in 2015 to 88 percent in 2016.

Science scores for grades five and eight continue to improve, with 57 percent of students testing proficient or above from 53 percent in 2015 and 51 percent in 2014. Eighth-grade proficiency scores also rose, with 55 percent of students testing proficient or above in 2016 from 52 percent in 2015 and 50 percent in 2014.

Statewide Social Studies scores in grades five, seven and eight decreased from 2015 to 2016. The Social Studies assessments for grades 5 and 8 are in the final year of a three-year transition to more rigorous academic standards, while grade 7 geography is in the second year of a three-year transition.

Hofmeister said that she’s satisfied with the results in light of all the challenges schools have faced over the past few years, but acknowledges there is more work to do.

“Are we where we need to be? No. And I think that educators across the state agree with that,” she said.

The 2015-2016 school year was the last year that students will be taught the PASS standards. The Oklahoma legislature passed a new set of standards for English Language Arts and Math in March, which schools are already implementing. From now on tests will be based on these new standards, which set the bar higher, according to Hofmeister.

She also said that because these new standards are more rigorous than the previously-used PASS standards, it’s hard to predict what next year’s results will look like.

“We really don’t know. What we’re going to focus on is higher standards, a more rigorous assessment tool, and learning for the long run.”

Another big change for schools this year is that high school students will no longer take the End-of-Instruction exams in order to graduate. Previously, students had to pass four of seven EOIs to earn a diploma, but the legislature repealed that mandate this past legislative session.

She said these changes will make it difficult to compare this year’s results to next years. 

You can find a complete listing of the results on the Department of Education's website, by clicking here

Emily Wendler was KOSU's education reporter from 2015 to 2019.
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