Public urged to join work on new school standards

By TED STANTON Special to the Democrat

July 19, 2014

The door is open for Oklahomans who want to participate personally in the development of new academic standards for all the state’s public school students from kindergarten through high school.

The step-by-step process for creating the standards was detailed in a state Department of Education announcement Wednesday and a Daily Oklahoman story Friday.

The announcement came days after the state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Legislature’s bill repealing the controversial Common Core, which was adopted by Oklahoma and more than 40 other states three years ago.

The new law requires that new standards be in place in just over two years — by August 2016. Until then, school districts must return to the PASS (Priority Academic Student Skills) standards of 2010.

State Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi on Wednesday will ask the state Board of Education to approve a framework for development of the new standards, which will include naming of 28 writing teams and several other committees.

Teams and committees will be filled by persons recommended by various groups and by individuals self recommending.

Individuals interested in serving on the teams or committees can get application forms at ok.gov/sde/newstandards. Here’s how the process will work:

—Establishment of a steering committee that will oversee the effort. It will be composed of Barresi and the executive director of the state Board of Career and Technology; Oklahoma chancellor for higher education; secretary and executive director of the state Department of Commerce; two embers of the state Board of Education.

—The committee will appoint four broad-based executive committees.

—Naming of the 28 writing team members, mostly teachers, who will draft the math and English language arts standards.

—A draft review committee will examine the teams’ standards while 12 regional groups will gather community input.

—An assessment design committee will review the standards’ content, grade-to-grade alignment and assessment design and structure.

—The proposed standards will then be opened for public comment for 45 days.

—The state Board of Education will approve the standards.

—The Legislature then gets the standards and may edit or amend and approve partially or totally. The final set of standards will then await the governor’s signature.

Barresi said it’s important to know the new standards will be written by Oklahomans and for Oklahomans and “will reflect Oklahoma values, principles and a commitment to excellence.” She didn’t define Oklahoma values or principles.

The process, she said, will include critical input from parents, the business community and anyone interested in ensuring that Oklahoma students are second to none.