Hofmeister Applauds Public Education Achievements in Legislative Session

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 6, 2016) – Despite a state legislative session that required lawmakers to deal with  a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, a number of major initiatives benefiting public education emerged and were signed into law.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister noted that the second regular session of the 55th Legislature approved several of her key agenda items, including:
In addition, Gov. Mary Fallin approved two measures of particular importance for strengthening PreK-12 education. House Bill 3218 eliminates the end-of-instruction (EOI) exams in order to usher in a more meaningful system of assessments and accountability, while HB 2957 significantly alters the state’s Teacher and Leader Effectiveness (TLE) evaluation system.
Hofmeister called HB 3218 a “momentous” achievement that allows educators to focus on rich instruction that, in turn, will yield real results preparing students for college or the demands of the workplace.
“We are going to see a change in the focus of schools from an over-testing culture to one that focuses our attention more on instruction and personalized learning,” she said. “This law represents a fundamental reform in how we think about testing, graduation and accountability. It allows us to develop a high-value assessment tool for students. I am confident it will enable us to lift student outcomes and better prepare our kids for college and career.”
HB 2957, which the governor signed into law on May 16, adds greater flexibility to the TLE system, removing the controversial value-added measures (VAM) that tie a teacher’s evaluation to student test scores and giving districts the option to consider quantitative measures. Qualitative measures, which evaluate classroom instruction, design and planning of instruction and the learning environment, remain. The modified TLE system will save OSDE and school districts statewide millions of dollars annually.
Not least of this session’s accomplishments was a flat budget appropriation for PreK-12 public schools.
“It was imperative that, while our state faced a truly historic budget shortfall, we fund kids first,” said Hofmeister. “It took tremendous effort on the part of legislative leaders and the governor to cushion the impact on Oklahoma schoolchildren. Other agencies received gut-wrenching cuts, and despite significant challenges ahead for public schools, we believe this budget represents the best-case scenario under difficult circumstances.”
Hofmeister, though thankful for the session’s aforementioned legislation, urged caution as districts close out Fiscal Year 2016 and enter FY 2017.
“It is important that we remain mindful that the budget’s flat funding is for the general revenue appropriation, which is one of common education’s seven funding streams,” Hofmeister said. “Some of the other streams continue to be impacted by the economic downturn in Oklahoma, and we must remember that the general revenue budget is based on projections which may again fall short. I applaud districts for being conservative. It was the right decision.”
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Last updated on June 6, 2016