Published Online: July 2, 2014

Oklahoma City to promote students who failed test

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Public Schools will promote 514 third-graders who failed a state reading test but were granted exemptions or approved by a team of educators and parents, the district announced Tuesday. Some 636 third-graders in the district are set to be retained until they pass an alternative test.

In May, the Oklahoma Department of Education announced that 16 percent of third-graders statewide scored unsatisfactory on the state reading test. In Oklahoma City, that percentage was much higher, amounting to nearly 29 percent.

But weeks later, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law that made it easier for districts to promote students who didn't score well on the standardized tests. Lawmakers overrode a veto by Gov. Mary Fallin, who had argued that promoting students who aren't reading at grade level sets them up for failure. The new law, which is now in effect, said that students who fail the test can still be promoted if a team of parents and educators unanimously approves.

"On the conference-based promotions, I think a lot of people really felt like we were going to just promote everyone because the law gave us that opportunity," said Pat Watson-Hunt, the Oklahoma City district's executive director of elementary schools. "Those teams came together and made decision based on the best interests of the children."

The 514 students who will be promoted included 139 students recommended for promotion by the team of parents and educators. It also includes students granted exemptions for reasons including learning disabilities, English as a second language or satisfactory performance on an alternate test.

The students who are set to be held back can still advance to fourth grade if they pass assessments held later this summer or fall, The Oklahoman reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/VEZkmc ). Students will be promoted immediately if they pass the test.

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Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com


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