Until the 2016 legislative session, Sen. J.J. Dossett was a classroom teacher at Owasso High School. The issues he hoped to address in the Legislature included eliminating unnecessary testing and the issue of high-stakes testing. Dossett, D-Owasso, said he was pleased with the passage of legislation last year eliminating state-mandated End of Instruction (EOI) exams, but said one unnecessary assessment test that isn’t required by the federal government remains on the books—he’s seeking to eliminate that state-mandated test with Senate Bill 2.
“Oklahoma continues to require schools to administer an assessment in U.S. history once sometime from the 9th through 12th grades,” Dossett said. “This test simply isn’t needed. Schools are still going to teach U.S. History, and just like every other class, students will take tests in the subject that will measure how well they’re learning the subject material. This just eliminates an unnecessary test and gives more time to teachers to teach and more times for students to learn. It’s a positive thing we can do for teachers and students that won’t cost anyone a dime.”
Dossett has also filed Senate Bill 123 which would modify the Reading Sufficiency Act. The measure would eliminate the required retention component for third graders who are found not to be reading at grade level. It would keep in place the remediation and supports put in place in the last few years. The bill also retains the Student Reading Proficiency Team. These teams were created to develop individualized remediation plans for first, second and third graders who are not reading at grade level as well as third graders who take the statewide assessment and were found to be reading below grade level.
“I agree with the concept of making sure Oklahoma students have the fundamental reading skills they need to learn and succeed,” Dossett said. “But I’ve always had an issue with the idea of a high stakes test that may not even reflect a child’s actual knowledge or ability and could inadvertently cause far more harm for the student than anticipated. Furthermore, if you are waiting until the third grade, it’s really too late. The emphasis needs to be on identifying and assisting children who aren’t reading at grade level sooner and getting them the support they need to get them up to speed. That’s what I hope to accomplish with my legislation.”