Majority Of OKCPS Students Fail State Alternative Reading Test

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014, 6:37 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

Some startling and disturbing numbers to report: Out of the 611 Oklahoma City Public School students who failed that controversial third-grade reading test last year, only five passed a recent alternative test to move on to fourth grade.

That's despite the fact that the school district said they put in a lot of effort to try and help these students learn to read. For example, over the summer, third-graders who failed that state mandated test were offered through the Oklahoma City school district an intensive and specialized reading academy to help them catch up.

Yet, despite the academy and other efforts by the district, an overwhelming majority of students, 606 out of 611, couldn't pass an alternative exam by the Nov. 1 deadline that would allow them to immediately move on to fourth grade.

5/9/2014 Related Story: 16 Percent Of OK Third-Graders Fail State Reading Test

Education experts said the more telling number is only 74 students actually took the test. The district offered it nine times since July.

“I think the concern is when you've got over 500 children," said Linda Hampton, president of the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA). "No one helped a nine or 10-year-old take advantage of the opportunities to go ahead and pass the test. That needs to be dealt with.” 

In a statement, an Oklahoma City district spokesperson said, "The District's Curriculum Department is working with teachers and principals at all levels to improve the reading instruction and strategies being taught in the classroom."

5/22/2014 Related Story: News 9's Alex Cameron Breaks Down Third Grade Reading Test

Hampton said this goes beyond the classroom to language barriers, financial problems and other issues at home.

“These children come to school sometimes with a lot of baggage, and we need to look at that as part of who they are and what they are,” Hampton said.

“I think it indicates there is a bigger problem going on in education,” Lisa Delgado, a literacy specialist and teaching professor at Oklahoma City University, said.

5/15/2014 Related Story: OKCPS Announces New Strategy To Improve Students' Reading Skills

A problem that Hampton said can't be solved with the current formula.

“I think we need to stop testing, and we need to focus on children, and they are two totally different things,” Hampton said.