WASHINGTON – Oklahoma now has the tools to make improvements in poorly performing public schools to prepare students for college and careers, with flexibility provided to states under the new Every Student Succeeds Act.
Joy Hofmeister, state superintendent of public instruction in Oklahoma, congratulated the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Wednesday for passing the Every Student Succeeds Act. Hofmeister was chosen by the subcommittee to testify due to her experience at the state and local levels of education.
“My fellow state chiefs and I look forward to both the flexibility and the stability of this new law,” Hofmeister said. “State education leaders believe in being held accountable for results. Every one of us is committed to equitable results for every child, no matter their background or income level.”
The Every Child Succeeds Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 10. The new law repeals federal requirements under the 2001 No Child Left Behind law and ensures important decisions affecting education are made by state and local leaders.
“Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, I finally see the federal government as a partner in this effort, rather than a barrier,” Hofmeister said. “I hope we can work together to keep it that way.”
A majority of students in Oklahoma graduate from high school – 85 percent. The national graduation rate is four percentage points lower than that of the Sooner State, based on the latest data from the Department of Education.
The new law places more weight on graduation rates than test scores and allows states more flexibility in designing and administering achievement tests. It preserves some minimum standards.
However, in Oklahoma, there are 24 high schools with at least 100 students, where one-third or more of each class doesn’t graduate, according to Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. Fudge asked Hofmeister how Oklahoma would use provisions in the new law to increase graduation rates in these schools.
“We are changing school turnaround in our office, because that is something in the agency that hasn’t been successful,” Hofmeister said. “We now have that flexibility to use best practices and evidence.”
Hofmeister said local school leaders must set a vision for student progress, where a vision might be lacking. States must ultimately be held accountable, she said.
“Accountability is a good thing in life,” Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., the subcommittee chair, said. “It’s going to be up to you now to decide what success is, and what it looks like, and you’ll be held accountable to your voters and taxpayers.”
Reach Erick Payne at [email protected] or 202-408-1489. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
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