MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

January 21, 2013

Hulbert targets EOI test statute for graduation

He offers bill that would switch in ACT requirement

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Oklahoma seniors might need a good ACT score to get a high school diploma under a bill filed by a Fort Gibson legislator.

Students now must pass end of instruction tests in Algebra I and English II, plus two of five additional subjects — Algebra II, English III, Biology I, geometry or U.S. history —  to get a diploma.

House Bill 1360, filed by state Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson, would delete that testing requirement and instead require high school students to take the American College Test. Students who don’t make the minimum composite score on the ACT could retake the test each year until they achieve that score.

Hulbert, who was elected in November, said he heard people complain about the EOI test while he was campaigning.

“My preference would be to do away with any end of instruction test,” he said. “Teachers spend so much time preparing students for the test.”

Hulbert said the ACT is an accurate indicator of college success. He said he had considered setting 14 as the base composite score but was told that was too low.

“My desire is to provide as much local control as possible on the appeals process regarding the test,” he said.

Fort Gibson High School Principal Gary Sparks said he would be interested in how Hulbert’s bill develops.

“For years I’ve been saying the ACT is a good criteria for student achievement,” Sparks said. “I’ve lobbied for the ACT to be used as the test when they were discussing the EOI.”

Sparks said a large percentage of FGHS students take the ACT and score well. Of last year’s class of 122 seniors, 105 took the ACT, he said. The test costs about $39, he said.

In 2012, FGHS had a composite score of 21.2, with 105 students taking the test. Muskogee High had a composite score of 19.5, with 197 taking the test. Hilldale’s composite was 19.6, with 97 taking the test. Midway, which had nine taking the test, had a composite of 16.8; Haskell, with 32 taking the test, had a composite of 16.7.

Hulbert said he would expect the state to fund ACT tests for each student if they become required for graduation. He said it could cost less than funding the EOI tests, and that he is not aware of any other state that requires an ACT test for graduation.

Tricia Pemberton, a communications specialist in the Oklahoma Department of Education, said EOI tests are accurate ways to show mastery of a subject.

She said 95 percent of last year’s seniors passed all the EOI tests.

“We feel confident seniors are able to do it,” she said.  

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