State Department of Education Update - Academic Standards

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Why We Can’t Go Back to PASS

Oklahoma legislators should be critical of any recommendation to step backwards to Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) if Common Core State Standards are repealed. Lawmakers must be aware of the negative impact such a dramatic shift in policy would have on children and teachers. Returning to PASS is not acceptable for Oklahoma Math and English.

Read the attached letter from the Fordham Institute, clarifying the group’s belief that a return to PASS standards would be a significant mistake. In the letter, addressed to Gov. Fallin, dated May 1, Fordham's executive vice president clarifies that while the group found Oklahoma’s standards in English and math to be relatively solid in 2010, the standards failed in significant ways, making them incompatible with college and career readiness.

  • PASS Standards resulted from Oklahoma’s collaboration with Achieve, a developer of Common Core State Standards. Oklahoma first worked with Achieve to revise standards in 2002 and 2006.
  • In 2005, Oklahoma joined Achieve's American Diploma Project (ADP) Network to help align its standards and other policies to the ADP College and Career Readiness Agenda.
  • In 2006, Oklahoma was one of many states that participated in Achieve’s Alignment Institute to upgrade its PASS standards to the college- and career-ready level.
  • In 2007, Oklahoma adopted some of Achieve’s recommendations and made minor revisions to PASS for mathematics, but did not revise PASS for English.
  • In 2008, Achieve issued a report on the results of the Alignment Institute process and the adoption of its recommendations. Among the eight Alignment Institute states for English, Oklahoma PASS was ranked 7th in terms of its alignment to college- and career-ready expectations.
  • Among the eleven Alignment Institute states for math, Oklahoma PASS was ranked 10th in terms of its alignment to college- and career-ready expectations.
  • Oklahoma has not revised English or Mathematics standards since this 2008 report.
  • Oklahoma PASS standards are even further behind today’s understanding of college- and career-ready expectations.

Some may point to gains in graduation rates and overall Math and English scores since 2003 using PASS.



Students have gotten better at tests based on PASS standards because of excellent teaching. The standards, however, still have not sufficiently prepared students for college and career, as indicated by college remediation rates at a high of 42 percent in 2011.



PASS proponents also claim that the State’s first NCLB Waiver request, the Fordham Institute and outside experts all acknowledge PASS as “College and Career Ready.” The NCLB waiver, Fordham and “experts” DO NOT make this claim. 

  • State legislators acknowledged that PASS was not college and career ready when they amended the law in 2010 to specify the adoption of college and career ready standards.
  • No NCLB waiver claims that PASS standards for reading language arts or mathematics meet the current NCLB’s definition for College and Career Ready Standards. The waiver promised to transition from PASS to more rigorous standards.
  • Fordham’s evaluation of the Content and Rigor of the PASS standards for both English and math equates to a grade of C.
  • The Fordham Institute’s May 1 letter to the governor indicates PASS fell short of ensuring that children can comprehend informational text, just one of the problems outlined regarding the standards.