Oklahoma at a Crossroads: Inferior Standards or Back to the Drawing Board?

Even though “it’s hard to tell” whether Oklahoma’s proposed education standards are “good enough,” the Tulsa World editorial board argues that lawmakers should approve the learning goals. They claim that State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister “says it’s time to move forward, and we agree.” Criticism of the new standards, the piece goes further to say, comes from “out-of-state Common Core advocates and some of the extremists who took down Common Core.”

Unfortunately, the editorial is completely misguided. Even Oklahoma lawmakers—including those who sponsored the legislation to repeal the Common Core—filed three Joint Resolutions to impede the new standards, including two that called for the Legislature to reject the new standards so they could be rewritten.

A recent analysis by Achieve, an independent education advocacy organization that has evaluated more than 25 states’ education standards finds: “In both [math and English language arts] the standards fail to serve students, teachers or parents well… they cover a lot of content, but with very little depth.”

The analysis concludes: “The standards fall short on nearly all of Achieve’s criteria for quality standards because they are too broad or inappropriately focused to effectively guide instruction that is appropriately rigorous across the grade levels. Worst of all, these standards will disadvantage Oklahoma students compared to their peers in other states; students in Oklahoma will be less prepared to successfully enter college and careers.”

A new white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success explains that lawmakers forced Oklahoma into a corner by repealing the standards, and are now confronted with either adopting inferior learning goals or going back to the drawing board. “Oklahoma’s exercise to produce new education standards from whole cloth demonstrates the dangerous effect of anti-Common Core critics’ misinformation campaigns, and it reaffirms the impossible challenge of producing college and career-ready standards that bear no resemblance to Common Core State Standards.”

On that point, the Tulsa World editorial board agrees. It notes, “Common Core would have given the state the ability to compare its education effectiveness across state lines, but it fell victim to misinformation and political paranoia.”

In a memo Karen Nussle boils down Oklahoma lawmakers’ choice: “Reject political rhetoric and defend higher standards, or capitulate to a few loud voices by lowering the bar.”