The Woodward News

Local News

May 3, 2013

Retesting option involves difficult decisions

Woodward, Okla. — According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, those students who experienced disruptions during state mandated testing on Monday and Tuesday will have the opportunity to retest.

A press release issued by the Education Department late Wednesday stated that "all students who did not obtain a proficient or higher score and were disrupted must retest as is the normal practice."

In addition, the release states, "an option is being provided for those who answered enough questions correctly to qualify for a proficient or advanced score."

While those passing the test with proficient or better "will be excused from the retesting requirement," they will be "allowed to retest if they desire," the release states.

Susan Viles, district testing coordinator for Woodward Public Schools, said she was in favor of students having the option to retest.

"I hope they are all given that opportunity," Viles said.  "I know some students will say, 'hey, I passed,' but some might say, 'I think I could do better.'"

Viles said the whole issue with the testing disruptions "just wasn't fair."

"Personally I think if the student was disrupted and not given a standardized testing environment, they should have the choice, the opportunity to earn the best possible score.  The students have worked hard all year, the teachers have worked hard all year.  They deserve that chance," Viles said.

EXTENSION TO TESTING PERIOD NOT LONG ENOUGH

For those students who retest, the Education Department said "another form of the test will be provided during this testing window."

But while the testing window has been extended by 2 days to make up for the lost time due to the disruptions in testing earlier this week, school districts will have to act fast to schedule the retests.  Especially for those needing to retest in 3rd through 8th grades, as the grade level testing window was only extended until next Tuesday, May 7.  

Superintendent Tim Merchant said of the 2-day extension for the middle school level, "yes that helps, but it is not adequate enough time to disseminate the information we need to to parents and to the students and have to make that decision by."

"Because we had to make that decision by this afternoon in order to invalidate those tests and turn around and order new testing and to develop a plan to get testers, to get monitors to be able to implement the tests," Merchant said.

The high school testing window for End of Instruction (EOI) exams have been extended from a May 10 deadline until May 14, which gives school officials and students all next week to consider retesting options.

Beyond having more time to make the retesting decision on the high school level, Viles said the high school students who retest will be provided with an "online equivalent form" which will be more immediately and easily accessed, pending no additional connectivity problems.

In comparison she said the middle school retesting is more difficult because "when we invalidate a test there, there is not an online equivalent form we can give them.  So if we choose to invalidate, they have to ship us, overnight, paper and pencil tests."

Which means that the district will have to order the new tests today in order to have them shipped and arrive by Monday in time for students to retest by Tuesday's deadline.  Merchant said that at least 53 new tests, including both the 8th grade reading and math exams, were being ordered "for sure."

This creates some difficulties because some middle school students weren't even made aware that they may be on the borderline and might want to consider retesting until Thursday.  Merchant said those students were "encouraged to visit with their parents and have their parents contact the school" about whether they would like to choose to retest.

However, with school out today, there is not much opportunity for the 8th graders or their parents to request a retest.  But Merchant said that parents interested in requesting a new test for their student can still try to contact District Test Coordinator Susan Viles today at 256-6063 ext. 3326.

"We're still trying to work with the State Department of Education to let them know our issues and concerns and try to get a further extension than just 2 days, but I don't know that we'll get that," Merchant said.  "It doesn't look very favorable."

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