OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 28, 2016) — The Oklahoma State Board of Education today unanimously
approved the final draft of new state academic standards for English language arts
(ELA) and mathematics, sending the standards to the Legislature for approval
and concluding a robust and transparent process of revisions that incorporated
feedback from thousands of Oklahomans.
State Superintendent of
Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister thanked the board for its vote and praised
the many Oklahomans who took part in creating the new standards.
“These new standards are
rigorous, user-friendly and most importantly created by Oklahomans to address
the particular needs of our state,” Hofmeister said. “They strengthen
expectations of what our students can achieve and set a high bar that ensures
all Oklahoma schoolchildren will be well prepared to enter higher education and
demanding careers. I am thankful to every Oklahoman who participated in this
process — from writing the standards to providing essential feedback. Oklahoma
can truly be proud of these standards.”
Under House Bill 3399,
which repealed Common Core State Standards in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma State
Board of Education (OSBE) was tasked with adopting a set of standards for use
in schools beginning in the 2016-17 school year. As directed by that law, the drafted
standards were sent to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, Oklahoma Department
of Career and Technology Education and the State Regents for Higher Education for
review. This morning, the Regents certified the standards as college- and
The Oklahoma Academic
Standards for ELA and Mathematics improve on and replace the Priority Academic
Student Skills (PASS) standards, which were temporarily re-implemented by HB
3399 after the repeal of Common Core.
The new standards were
written by teams of educators from Oklahoma institutions of higher education
and school districts across the state that based their research on successful,
non-Common Core standards in other states. These standards provide measurable
goals and benchmarks for instruction. Specific curriculum and lesson plans remain
under the control of local school districts.
The standards have earned
accolades from a host of experts.
Dr. Frank Wang, president
of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, has worked as a textbook
publisher, where he studied math standards he considered vague and
immeasurable. The new Oklahoma standards, he said, bucked that trend.
“Given my prior experience
studying state standards, I approached this task with a healthy amount of
skepticism. I was pleasantly surprised,” said Wang, who holds a doctorate in
pure math from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Overall, I found the
standards to be clearly stated, explicit, relevant and appropriate. I feel that
students who are in classes that follow these standards will be well prepared
for college and capable of pursuing STEM majors if they choose to do so.”
Dr. Priscilla L. Griffith,
director of the Oklahoma Writing Project (OWP) at the University of Oklahoma,
praised the ELA standards.
“The content of the
standards is rigorous and requires students to engage in analysis, synthesis,
evaluation, and creativity beginning as early as prekindergarten. OWP is
confident application of these standards will ensure students are prepared for
workplace and college success,” wrote Griffith and Audra Plummer, OWP’s
director for in-service, in a letter to OSDE.
Hofmeister said the heavy
lifting for educators begins after the standards are finalized.
“Districts and schools
have a mountain of work to begin as soon as these standards are approved,” she
said. “Before students arrive for the next school year, districts must align
the curriculum framework for both subjects in every grade level, and teachers
will need professional development. We owe it to our teachers and students to get them finalized
and approved as quickly as possible.”
Extensive review process and new features
Since June 2015, standards
drafts have been reviewed by classroom teachers, school curriculum specialists,
parents, legislators, statewide and national education organizations,
representatives of business and higher education and members of the general
public who participated in multiple rounds of public comment.
The new standards are more
rigorous than PASS. They offer a renewed focus on foundational skills,
including phonics, cursive writing, basic grammar and writing research papers
in ELA; and counting money, standard algorithms, patterns, ratios and
proportions in math.
They are also the first
standards in Oklahoma to be published with vertical progressions, which allow
teachers to base their lesson plans not just on where students should be performing
in their grade, but also where they will be expected to go in future grades,
allowing for interconnected instruction with fewer knowledge gaps between
Educators, leaders and organizations
from across Oklahoma and the nation have already reviewed the final draft and
offered multiple endorsements of the standards.
The South Central
Comprehensive Center (SC3) at OU, which aims to sustain reform efforts and
improve teaching and learning in four U.S. states, assembled committees to
compare the new standards to Common Core standards and found significant
differences between them, such as the incorporation of multimodal literacy in
ELA and beginning the standards in prekindergarten to identify and eliminate
gaps in learning as early as possible.
Of the ELA standards, the
SC3 report states: “These rigorous standards establish a solid foundation in
all aspects of literacy and incorporate higher-order thinking skills as
students engage in research, decipher multimodal texts and become independent
readers and writers. The inclusive approach toward historical, social and
cultural connections to content grounds learners in the knowledge needed for
further study, work and citizenship engagement.”
More than 1,900 teachers
across the state were directly involved in the standards-creation process. Educators
from across the state are writing in support of the standards as a rigorous and
direct answer to the needs of Oklahoma classrooms.
World Literature Today executive director Robert Con Davis-Undiano, who is
also a Neustadt Professor and Presidential Professor at OU, praised the final
draft of the ELA standards.
“I believe that the new
standards will raise the level of student preparation in the ELA area, and I am
pleased to anticipate the enhanced knowledge base and sophistication that will
be evident in students coming from Oklahoma high schools to attend The
University of Oklahoma and study literature and the arts,” wrote Davis-Undiano.
Tara L. Fair, associate
superintendent at Edmond Public Schools, said: “As a school district, we have
been extremely involved with the standards writing process. Our content
specialists, administrators and teachers have also had numerous opportunities
for reviewing the standards. Many of our stakeholders have participated in the
opportunities that have been provided by the state and through content
consortiums. It is our determination that these standards are a quality product
and will benefit the students of Edmond and Oklahoma.”
Janet C. Dunlop, associate
superintendent at Broken Arrow Public Schools, said: “It is with full
confidence that Broken Arrow Public Schools endorses the new Oklahoma [Academic]
Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics … The alignment of the
standards to college- and career-ready skills and the precise vertical
alignment provide a much better roadmap for our teachers to use. We feel
strongly that these standards will provide our students with a more rigorous
and deep understanding of the concepts and skills needed to be equipped
citizens and successful in college and career.”
Once new standards are
approved by the Legislature, the OSDE will immediately begin working to ensure
all local schools are adequately prepared to begin using them as soon as
Copies of the standards, support letters and ancillary
booklets are available here.