oklahoma state department of education

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Lower standardized test scores amid the pandemic have Oklahoma lawmakers’ attention, but using them to compare districts or even schools may not be possible.

Less than one-fourth of students are proficient in math or English language arts, and scores in 2021 were down across the board from 2019. Standardized tests were not administered in 2020.

Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) said during an interim study this week she’s concerned but noted lawmakers value public education.

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For the first time since the pandemic began, Oklahoma students, parents and educators have results from statewide assessments available.

The State Board of Education on Thursday signed off on a nearly $3.3 billion dollar fiscal year 2023 budget request for Oklahoma’s public schools.

Oct. 1 is the deadline for the spending plan to be submitted to lawmakers and the governor, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education is responsible for submitting a budget it believes will meet the needs of the state's K–12 students.

"While it is often challenging to project what those needs will be two years in advance, the following budget is a step in the right direction," said OSDE Legislative Analyst Nat Barrack.

Stitt Seeks Audit Of State Education Department

Sep 17, 2021
Facebook / Superintendent Joy Hofmeister

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Thursday that he has requested an audit of the state Department of Education.

The request came after an audit last year of Epic Charter Schools revealed that tens of millions of dollars were diverted into a for-profit business controlled by the school system’s two founders and its chief financial officer, Stitt said.

Epic officials have denied wrongdoing.

Oklahoma City Public Schools

With schools across Oklahoma beginning to welcome students back to the classroom amid a state- and region-wide surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. Kevin Stitt's office said Tuesday morning his position has not changed regarding a legal prohibition on public school districts from requiring masks.

Preliminary state test results from the 2020–2021 school year are now in.

Those tests were suspended for the 2019–2020 year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Scores for students in grades three through eight are available through a secure online portal, okparentportal.emetric.net.

Parents need their students’ 10-digit state testing number to log in. Parents who need their children's testing numbers should contact the student's school.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools announced Tuesday she plans to seek the Republican nomination for Oklahoma state superintendent in 2022.

April Grace is a longtime educator who has been superintendent in Shawnee since 2016. In a press release announcing her candidacy, Grace said she already has raised more than $100,000.

Current Republican Superintendent Joy Hofmeister can’t run for the seat again because of term limits.

American Rescue Plan funds will provide a boost to the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s long-delayed plan to hire 1,000 school counselors.

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In a special meeting Monday night, the Oklahoma State Board of Education voted unanimously to rescind a March resolution to equalize state funding for charter and traditional public schools.

The vote came hours after lawmakers sent the governor legislation to create a grant program for underfunded schools, including brick-and-mortar charter schools. The board voted after a roughly 45-minute executive session with their recently hired outside legal counsel, Hall Estil shareholder John O'Connor.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a $45,000 contract Monday evening for outside legal counsel in three legal challenges to its decision to equalize traditional public and charter school funding.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After convening for hours in a closed meeting, Oklahoma’s State Board of Education flipped public school funding on its head.

 

The board voted 4-3 on a resolution to “equalize funding for all charter schools and public schools.”

Norman Public Schools learning coach Jessica Eschbach is the 2021 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.

Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced the award Thursday in a virtual ceremony. 

In a video, Eschbach recognized her fellow teachers for their hard work over the past year and reminded them there’s much more ahead.

While they were suspended last school year, there will be some changes to the Oklahoma School Report Cards when they return. 

Going forward, the single English language and math achievement indicator will be separated into a performance and an improvement indicator. Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability Maria Harris said trying to combine a snapshot and a longer-term outlook into a single indicator was complicated.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday voted to give districts another year before they must seek a waiver to go on four-day school weeks.

Under state law, districts wanting to have fewer than the minimum 165 days of instruction would have to seek a waiver from the state department of education starting with the 2021–22 school year. The board’s decision postpones the waiver requirement until 2022–23. At all grade levels, the most recent Oklahoma School Report Card was part of the eligibility requirements.

Tom Holland-Wikimedia

A state House budget committee took a keen interest on Monday in the funding K–12 schools are getting outside of state appropriations.

During the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s budget presentation, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister was asked about more than $120 million in coronavirus relief funding that went to schools. She said that funding must be drawn down as reimbursements, and schools are largely using it to add teachers and reading specialists. But the funding has not been distributed equally.

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Insisting on in-person options statewide, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced a new policy Tuesday aimed at reducing school quarantines for COVID-19.

"Students and teachers exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 in school will no longer be required to quarantine as long as the exposure happened in a classroom setting [and] everyone was wearing masks and following other appropriate protocols, like social distancing," said State Health Commissioner Dr. Lance Frye.

In the year’s first budget hearing, Oklahoma State Department of Education officials presented their $3.2 billion request to state lawmakers.

It represents a 6% increase — $191 million — over the current fiscal year appropriation, with most going toward the state funding formula for public schools.

There will be no Oklahoma School report cards for the current year.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously on Thursday to suspend them for one year because of upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. State testing factors heavily into the A–F report cards and is set to go on, but all of the data that goes into them will somehow be affected.

Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability Maria Harris told the board, for example, students didn’t test last year because of a federal waiver. Now, there’s no way to measure academic growth over the past year.

Oklahoma Watch

While state testing for the current year is on for now, its impact on Oklahoma school report cards is up in the air.

Deputy Superintendent of Assessment and Accountability Maria Harris said in a statewide COVID update last week while the Oklahoma State Department of Education wants data from testing, they know it will not be as reliable because of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Oklahoma’s state testing window for the current school year will start two weeks sooner and end one week later than originally planned.

The State Board of Education on Thursday approved changing the initially planned window of April 20 through May 17. Math, English language and science assessments in grades three through eight can now be started any time between April 6 and May 24.

Serge Melki

Citing concerns stemming from a damning state audit of Epic Charter Schools, a group of about two-dozen Republican state lawmakers want Gov. Kevin Stitt to order an audit of the State Department of Education.

They said the Epic audit notes the agency didn’t properly monitor a statewide school expense reporting system at the center of millions of dollars auditors identified as misspent by the charter school.

The lawmakers believe that could mean hundreds of millions of dollars of misused funds.

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Billboards supporting a statewide mask mandate in Oklahoma schools have been erected across the state.

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Oklahoma education officials anticipate there will be state testing in the spring.

Oklahoma State Department of Education Chief of Government Affairs Carolyn Thompson said at this point, the U.S. Department of Education isn’t sure it has authority to grant another testing waiver and Congress hasn’t indicated a willingness to make it happen.

"And to be frank, at least from our position, we need that data. Schools need that data. I mean, we have to have it so that we know where our kids are," Thompson told lawmakers Wednesday during an interim study.

Facebook / Stillwater Public Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Stillwater Public Schools students and their families are suffering personal and financial hardships as a result of the district’s distance and remote learning plan enacted because of the coronavirus pandemic, a group of parents allege in a lawsuit filed Monday.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will ask lawmakers for just under $3.2 billion for fiscal year 2022. 

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the agency is obligated to make a budget request that accurately reflects the needs of students, but the state’s finances are a factor.

"We actually are asking for not even what we asked for last year, but less," Hofmeister said.

The education request represents a total increase of almost $191 million from this year’s appropriation but is about $107 million less than the agency’s last budget request.

Stitt Selects Former Teacher As New Education Secretary

Sep 11, 2020
Office of Gov. Kevin Stitt

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday named a former classroom teacher and CEO of an education reform group as his new secretary of education. 

Every Kid Counts CEO Ryan Walters will replace Secretary of State Michael Rogers, who stepped down from the education position last month, citing his workload.

Facebook / Governor Kevin Stitt

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said on Tuesday that she considers it unacceptable that a sizeable number of Oklahoma school districts have declined to require masks as they reopen for in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oklahoma Watch

While all but one county in Oklahoma meet the threshold of new coronavirus infections for school masking policies, 35% of districts have no mask requirement in place, according to a survey by the State Department of Education.

In approving the department’s COVID safety protocols last month, the State Board of Education cut requirements down to recommendations, including those for masks for students, teachers and staff. State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said the lack of mask requirements is still concerning.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma schools will not be required by the state to institute any specific COVID safety protocols if the pandemic worsens after kids return to school.

On a 4–3 vote Thursday, the Oklahoma State Board of Education approved a motion to reduce any requirements in a proposed set of COVID safety protocols to recommendations.

Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is preparing teachers for a demanding yet uncertain 2020-2021.

During the agency’s annual summer conference, Executive Director of School Design and Innovation Aaron Espolt shared results of a national survey showing only about one in three parents is at all likely to expect less from their students this year after last school year was upended by the coronavirus pandemic, and nearly three in four are confident their kids will be prepared for college, an increase from last year.

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