Oklahoma Educational Standards
and Accountability Plan

 

Most people respond to standards and incentives. Incentives are routinely used to encourage desirable behavior. Standards with incentives work in many organizations including business and universities. Because they expect later compensation in money and prestige, ambitious college students strive for academic performance. Students hope to be recruited by a major corporation or for admission to a top graduate or professional school.

It seems a good time to raise the question whether incentivized standards can work in schools as they do in much of the rest of society. Some have been disappointed with the results of past educational reforms. Would standards, coupled with incentives work better? Would, for example, schools perform better if they had specific goals and standards to meet? Would state-funded incentives encourage students to take rigorous high school coursework so that college would be partially or completely funded?

Schools make little use of effective incentives to achieve desired goals and outcomes. A 1996 Public Agenda national survey of high school students showed that three-fourths believe that more challenging standards would make students pay more attention to their studies. Three-fourths also said students who have not mastered English should not graduate, and a similar percentage said schools should promote only students who master the material. Almost two-thirds reported they could do much better in school if they tried. Nearly 80 percent said students would learn more if schools made sure they were on time and did their homework. More than 70 percent said schools should require after-school classes for those earning D's and F's.

Isn't it appropriate for schools to be held accountable for their student's success or failure? To hold schools accountable there must be clear and precise standards that each individual school district and then each individual school site must meet. Standards driven reform is an idea that has been sweeping across the nation. Oklahoma attempted to establish the process for standards based reform over 3 years ago. HB 1100 would have required each school site to have specific goals to achieve in the area of test scores, improved attendance, reduced drop-out rate, etc. Unfortunately, the bill was vetoed

Good standards must be clear. They must focus on "the big ideas." They must be measurable. They must be rigorous. They must permit various methods of teaching.

Standards must be subject to continuous improvement and involve a broad set of interests. The ultimate "test" of whether or not standards and incentives work is whether or not student learning is improving. We must be realistic however. A standards-driven reform effort must be in place for awhile before one will see broad-ranging results.

A recent report from Education Week titled Quality Counts '99 details the findings of a 50-state survey of state policies on accountability:

Forty-eight states now test their students, and 36 publish annual report cards on individual schools. (Oklahoma does so but we clearly must improve tests and reporting);

But fewer than half--19--publicly rate the performance of all schools or at least identify low-performing ones. (Oklahoma received a C- grade on its reporting);

Only 16 states have the power to close, take over, or overhaul chronically failing schools. (Oklahoma is one of only 3 of theses 16 states to have imposed sanctions on a school district);

Only 14 states provide monetary rewards for individual schools based on performance. (Oklahoma provides no rewards);

Only 19 require students to pass state tests to graduate from high school; only six have laws that will link student promotion to test results in the future. (Oklahoma does not currently have a graduation exit examination).

We are proposing that Oklahoma move forward with comprehensive standards, incentives and performance based accountability. This educational reform effort must include standards for schools, students and the state.

  

Components of the Educational Standards
and Accountability Plan

Part I: Clear and High Standards

  1. Create an Educational Quality Standards and Accountability Commission. The EQSAC duties will be to develop rigorous academic standards for students, school sites, school districts and the state. Standards shall include school site performance on tests scores, including criterion referenced tests, norm referenced tests and National Assessment of Educational Progress. These standards will be benchmarked to national and peer states and monitored and measured;

  2. Have EQSAC develop and publish the proposed standards no later than January, 2000;
    This standards based approach will provide for local variation and innovation in method but commonality in desired result. The benchmarks will be statewide but goals will be adapted to local circumstances with both incentives and resources tied to progress. Middle school and high school standards will focus on core subjects of English, Math, Science and Social Studies with an increased emphasis on coursework counseling, and financial incentives for students, parents and schools. Reading and next grade readiness will be focused on in pre K through elementary grades;

    Financial Incentives for School Performance to be determined;

  3. Require EQSAC standards to include benchmarks for graduation rates, remediation rates, attendance rates and safety indicators such as suspensions and violent incidents. Additionally the EQSAC would make recommendations about how to develop and allocate financial and other incentives for schools that attain benchmarked goals.

    Oklahoma's standards need clarification and improvement according to the most recent Quality Counts Report Card. Well-monitored standards, in conjunction with incentives and resource support, will improve student results and achievement;

  4. Have EQSAC develop a new Accountability Reporting System designed to serve as a "report card" on educational progress toward meeting standards from school site, to district to state level. The new system will include:
    1. Reports on low performing school districts and sites;
    2. Reports on exemplary school districts and sites;
    3. Provide technical assistance and early intervention for school sites and districts that are low performing or are struggling to meet standards;
    4. Recommend sanctions for low performing school sites or districts that do not respond to assistance or intervention efforts.

    Oklahoma currently has developed school "report cards" through the Office of Accountability. EQSAC will further facilitate the development of more effective, easy-to-understand "accountability reports" that will allow parents, teachers, policymakers and taxpayers to monitor progress toward newly implemented educational standards.

    Early intervention with technical assistance and resources must be provided first to low performing schools before any sanctions are imposed.

    Oklahoma currently does not have incentives or formal, systematic recognition of exemplary schools.

    Assistance interventions will be provided at an early stage for schools, teachers and students having difficulty. Specific goals such as meeting the national average on the state ACT score will be established.

    Individual school site and district scores and progress relative to state goals will be reported in absolute terms and with adjustments made for differences in the economic and demographic make-up of the district;

    Points 1-4 Senator Hobson

  5. End "social promotion" by the year 2000. Replace "social promotion" with "contingent promotion" starting with grades 3 through 8 in 1999. Early intervention and counseling would be required for students struggling to meet standards prior to completion of a school year.

    This new graduation option will allow a teacher a third alternative to either passing or failing a student. The teacher will have the authority to pass a student contingent upon the successful completion of an approved tutoring program and/or "Summer Academy". Failure to attend and reach next grade readiness standards, either in the course of the regular school year or at the "Summer Academy" will result in retention.

    The cost of each grade will be approximately $8.4 million. Senator Williams
     

  6. Improving School Safety tops the list of educational standards according to parents surveyed in the Quality Counts study.

    This plan will establish partnerships with local police, provide teacher training to include classroom management, conflict resolution, funding for technology such as metal detectors, school resource officers with arrest powers, stricter requirements for police to notify school officials of student arrests, and access and publication of violent incident data. Make assault of a teacher a felony.

    Senator Crutchfield

  

Part II: Flexibility at the Local Level

  1. Strengthen deregulation provisions. Give schools leeway from many state laws and from the Department of Education regulations. Encourage innovation linked to performance;

    Senator Williams


  2. Develop innovative "academy schools" that would be untethered from certain state requirements and meet the criteria for federal funding;

    The first "summer academy" program designed to help students preparing for grade 4 would begin in the summer of 1999. Additional grades will be added each year until 8th grade is included.

    Senator Williams

  

Part III: Targeted Resources

  1. Establish the Oklahoma HOPE Scholarship Program for high school students who meet the following requirements:

    Junior College/Vocational School: 2.75 grade point average, complete at least 4 years of English/business communication, three years of mathematics (two of which must be college preparatory), three years of science, computer science or technology courses, three years of social science. Graduates meeting these criteria will be eligible for up to two years of free tuition at a state Junior College or Vocational Technical school.

    Regional Universities: High School students who maintain a 3.0 grade point average and complete college preparatory curriculum approved by the Regents for Higher Education and score a minimum composite score of 20 on their ACT will be eligible for up to 4 years of free tuition at state regional university.

    Comprehensive Universities: High School students who maintain a 3.0 grade point average, complete a college preparatory curriculum approved by the State Regents for Higher Education and score a minimum of 20 on each of the subject area tests of the ACT and meet other regular admission requirements at the University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University will be eligible for up to 4 years of free tuition at those institutions.

    Student will be eligible for the free tuition provisions of the HOPE Scholarships for up to 5 years from their high school graduation. Adult students who have been out of school for more than five years could be provided tax credits for up to 60 hours of tuition upon completion of a degree program.

    Students not meeting any of the above criteria would have to pass a high school proficiency exit examination or have completed an approved vocational program to receive a high school diploma.

    Cost: $12 Million per new freshman class.

    Senator Morgan


  2. Provide new incentives for full day kindergarten and continue to maintain support for 4-year-old programs. Oklahoma has added 13,368 students to these programs in the past six years. Such programs greatly enhance the chance of early grade success thus getting students off to an excellent start in their academic careers;

    Senator Henry


  3. Create 12 new satellite math and science schools to expand accessibility of world class math and science education to Oklahoma's students;

    Cost: $1.8 million

    Senator Fisher


  4. Establish state and local funding sources to purchase technology, computers and gain Internet access for Oklahoma's classrooms. Deliver $16.5 million currently budgeted to the Department of Education for technology on a need basis to local school sites. Funding should be allocated based on readiness and community commitment. Allow local school districts the option of raising technology funding outside the current funding formula. Find other state funding streams to supplement local efforts. Oklahoma currently ranks last in Internet connected classrooms;

    Senator Henry


  5. Create a Special Need Scholarship (SNS) for Math and Science Teachers.

    The Scholarship would also apply to other fields such as special education and geographic areas that have special needs. Prospective teachers who become certified to teach secondary math and science would receive free tuition, books and fees if they spend at least 4 years teaching those subjects in a high need subject or school district in the state;

    Cost: $6 million

    Senator Crutchfield


  6. Maintain a commitment to National Teacher Certification. In the past year 39 of 100 Oklahoma teachers have passed the national certification standards - the highest percentage in the nation;

    Senator Henry


  7. Continue to increase participation in Advanced Placement Programs;

    Senator Williams


  8. Expand resources and further emphasize teacher professional development. Continue to develop concepts such as an educational leadership Oklahoma and pre and in-service teacher training models.

    Senator Williams


  9. Commit to reaching the regional average for teacher salaries by the year 2005. Oklahoma's teachers currently earn an average of $30,369. The regional average is $32,550.

  10. Commit to reaching the regional average for per pupil revenues by the year 2005. Oklahoma currently raises $4,843 per pupil which ranks 48th in the U.S. and is 84.6% of the regional average of $5,721.

  

Oklahoma Educational Standards and Accountability Plan Budget

Components of the Plan and Cost

* Create EQSAC

Nominal

* Report Cards

Nominal

* Deregulation

Nominal

* Academy Schools

Nominal

* Contingent Promotion

$8.4 million

* Hope Scholarship

$12 million

* New Math/Sci Satellites

$1.8 million

* 4 Year Old Programs

No additional cost

* Technology Purchases

No additional cost

* SNS Scholarship

$6 million

* Teacher Training

No additional cost

* Teacher Certification

No additional cost

* Advanced Placement

No additional cost

Total

$28.2 million

Issue Papers