« Crowded State-Chief Races in Georgia, Idaho Narrowed by Primaries | Main | Okla. Governor Weighs Whether to Sign Bill to Repeal Common Core »

Oklahoma's Test-Based Retention Policy for 3rd Graders Scuttled by Lawmakers

By guest blogger Liana Heitin. Cross-posted from Curriculum Matters.

In Oklahoma, thousands of students will now be able to move from 3rd to 4th grade despite having failed a state standardized reading test.

The state legislature voted May 21 to overturn Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's veto of a bill that relaxed reading requirements, reports The OklahomanThe veto override passed 79-17 in the House and 45-2 in the Senate, to lawmakers' applause and cheers, according to the paper. Republicans hold a majority in both legislative chambers.

The Sooner State adopted a policy two years ago saying that 3rd graders would be held back if they scored "unsatisfactory" on the state reading exam. The policy had several exceptions—students could still advance if they scored well on an alternative test, demonstrated grade-level reading through a portfolio, or had received reading remediation for two or more years. 

The mandate was supposed to go into effect this year. However, it received pushback from state lawmakers who said parents and teachers should be able to decide whether a child advances. The legislature passed an opposing bill to loosen the requirements, which the governor vetoed this week, saying in a statement, "Promoting [students] to fourth grade without the basic tools they need to succeed is not just unwise; it is immoral."

The legislature's action this week means that 8,000 students who flunked the state reading test can still be promoted if a team of parents, teachers, administrators, and a reading specialist decide they should move on.

Oklahoma is one of several states to have adopted retention policies for 3rd graders. One such policy took effect in Florida in 2002-03 and has served as a model for policies in other states, including Arizona, Indiana, and Ohio.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments