Oklahoma Achieves is disappointed, though not surprised, by Oklahoma’s static performance on the 2017 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) as reported today. While Oklahomans determine the values and standards that guide our public education system, it is important that we know where our students stand with respect to their peers across the country. Educators, policymakers, and experts across the spectrum agree that the NAEP is the gold standard when it comes to assessing whether students are prepared for college and career opportunities.
Today’s scores reveal that far too many of our students are still not on track to meet the challenges ahead. Oklahoma students, like much of the country, saw no statistical difference in scores for 4th grade math and 8th grade reading and math. However, especially troubling is a four-point drop in our 4th grade reading scores. We must continue to strengthen Oklahoma’s Reading Sufficiency Act to ensure students are getting remediation prior to third grade, when it becomes much harder for students to catch up.
We know there is much more to be done to make sure every student graduates on a path to their dream job and these scores reinforce that we must think differently about how we educate our students in the 21st century. Simply put, far less than half of our students are prepared with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the jobs and educational opportunities of tomorrow, and the long-term trend is disturbing.
Oklahoma Achieves calls for greater urgency and action, and we implore policymakers to raise their expectations even further. States like Florida, that saw increases in their scores, have wholeheartedly embraced innovation and reform. We urge lawmakers to pass legislation this session that provides school district fiscal transparency, as well as offering teachers a career ladder for professional advancement. As our state looks ahead, future reforms to the system should focus on personalized learning and offering more choice to suit a student’s specific learning needs. Our state can no longer rely on the one-size-fits-all model we operate under today [emphasis added].
While much attention recently has been rightly focused on ensuring that we can attract, retain, and reward the best educators, we must also recognize that our public education system must change to provide the educational opportunities our students need and deserve. This is why it is critical that students return to the classroom as soon as possible so they don’t fall even further behind.
Business leaders with Oklahoma Achieves believe that the core principles of accountability, transparency, return on investment, choice and innovation, and a relentless focus on students provides the roadmap for much-needed change to our system. Today’s scores show that Oklahoma’s education system is not adequately preparing students for the future. We have much more work to do.