Academic standards writing teams gather feedback from education stakeholders


The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and the writing teams charged with developing Oklahoma’s academic standards for English language arts and mathematics have been soliciting feedback from a spectrum of education stakeholders.

Throughout October, the standards-writing teams and OSDE staffers have received critiques of the third draft of the standards.

“This has been a thorough and comprehensive process,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “I am confident that, when complete, it will conclude with strong standards to help ensure college- and career-readiness.”

In an effort to produce exceptional standards that will prepare students for higher education and 21st-century careers, the OSDE has gathered comments from thousands of people at town halls and school district visits, in surveys and focus groups, and via content reviews, webinars and conferences.

In addition, many districts throughout Oklahoma have held “feedback parties” in which educators, administrators and parents review drafts of the standards. Cordell, Edmond, Elgin, Lawton and Tahlequah are among the districts that have held these gatherings. 

Standards release map

Pins on the map above represent districts that submitted feedback about the new Oklahoma academic standards.

Two twenty-member teams are tasked with writing the Oklahoma Academic Standards for English language arts and mathematics. Under House Bill 3399, signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin in June 2014, the State Board of Education must endorse the standards before they are presented to the state Legislature for consideration. If lawmakers approve them, the standards will go to the governor for her signature. Then the OSDE will develop and produce supplemental materials to assist teachers in meeting the standards. That practice reflects the standards-making process in a number of states, including Virginia and California.

The Oklahoma Board of Education is scheduled to consider the standards at its December 2015 meeting.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano, Neustadt Professor and Presidential Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, participated in a feedback session on the third draft of English language arts standards. 

“The writers of the new English language arts standards for Oklahoma are moving slowly and deliberately through a difficult process,” said Davis-Undiano, who also serves as the executive director of World Literature Today magazine. “They want standards that will match or surpass the best and most ambitious ELA goals in the country.”

High-quality standards, Davis-Undiano said, are critical—and invaluable to the state’s children.

“Oklahoma students deserve to have such ambitious and positive goals. From what I have seen in discussions with the ELA team, I have every confidence that the writers will be fair minded and ambitious on behalf of our state’s future. I believe they will set high, appropriate standards for Pre-K through 12 education.”

Jennifer Monies, executive director of the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative, is among those who have reviewed the latest draft of the standards.

“We appreciate that Superintendent Hofmeister has included the business community at the table,” she said. “In order to give all Oklahoma students a shot at their dream job, it is imperative that our standards be rigorous and relevant. The Oklahoma business community has an important stake in making sure our state’s standards are preparing students for both college and career.”

The meetings have elicited scores of comments from reviewers. Some of them include:

  • “Clarity and consistency across grades is so important.”—Parent Focus Group
  • “Extensive review process by multiple external experts and stakeholder groups. Thank you for commitment to getting feedback.”—Administrator Focus Group
  • "Our kids are so capable of extraordinary things. We are making progress as a state toward providing all Oklahoma kids opportunities they deserve.”—Teacher Focus Group
  • “The real strength of the ELA curriculum is the opportunity for students to use critical thinking skills.”—Diverse Learners Focus Group
  • “I kept coming across the word ‘knowledge,’ and while I feel this is important to obtain, we need to focus on ‘learning’ instead of regurgitating and building our knowledge.”—Student Focus Group
  • “The group behind these standards clearly want to adequately prepare our students for the workforce or employment."—Business Focus Group
  • “I was very pleased to be able to hear about the whole process of the standards. Thank you for the opportunity to give my professional opinion.”—Teacher Focus Group

”Experts from higher education, common education, independent education think tanks, teachers, administrators, counselors, community agencies, students, business groups, those advocating for students with special needs, legislators and the governor’s office have provided valuable input,” said Dr. William Radke, executive director of the steering committee that developed the standards-writing process. “Every comment was and is being considered by the writing teams as they continue to tweak their work. This has been and continues to be an effort by Oklahomans for Oklahomans. Nothing could be more important for our children.”

Under HB 3399, the OSDE—in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, State Board of Career and Technology Education and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce—must develop and implement English language arts and mathematics standards by the 2016-17 school year.

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Last updated on October 15, 2015