MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

September 14, 2013

If test scores delayed again, third-graders could suffer

They would be left to wonder whether they can advance

A delay in the release of 2014 state test results could keep parents in limbo of knowing whether their children pass third grade this year.

A new law requires third-graders to pass the state reading exam to be eligible to advance to the fourth grade.

The tests are taken each April. However, a glitch in the testing process and a subsequent study of the results delayed their release this year. Area schools say they are getting the 2013 state test results just now — more than a month later than they did in the past.

One area school administrator says any similar delay this year should nullify the results.

“It is Sept. 13, and just yesterday, we got the test results,” said Sherry Rybolt, the principal of Fort Gibson Intermediate Elementary School.

State education officials say they will work harder to get third-grade test results to schools by the end of the 2014 school year.

Tricia Pemberton, the Oklahoma Department of Education’s communications specialist, said schools should finish the tests by April 22 so the department can get them. The state will give schools a list of the students’ results by May 15, she said.

Rybolt said: “That would make it easier for us to work with parents, if they can pull it off. I hope they can actually do it.”

Pemberton said tests given through the school year should tell schools which students are at risk of failing the state reading tests.

The state allows exemptions, including third-graders who are learning English as their second language, third-graders with disabilities who take other tests and third-graders who have passed reading tests in other states.

Pemberton said the state’s test provider, CBT/McGraw-Hill, has provided test results within weeks after the tests. For tests taken by computer, results are available even sooner, she said.

“We get the test scores from the provider and we put them in the data base,” Pemberton said. Preliminary scores are sent to the schools in mid-summer so they can verify the results, she said.

Rybolt said that even July would be too late to get the results this year.  

“My staff is out during the summer, and I don’t work in July,” she said. “I would hesitate to talk to a parent based on a preliminary result because they would say ‘I want final results.’”

State school officials attributed this year’s test result delays to computer server problems that disrupted testing for 9,000 students and a study of how students were affected by the disruption.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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