Oklahoma State Exams Begin, Third Graders Feel the Pressure - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma State Exams Begin, Third Graders Feel the Pressure

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ADA, OK--State testing began for Oklahoma students Thursday morning, and tensions are high--especially for this year's third graders.

"They do know that it's high stakes, and they came in this morning with some anxiety," said Pam Martin, principal of Washington Elementary School in Ada.

End of the year exams are no fun for anyone. While most students are dreaming of summer vacation, Oklahoma third graders are dreaming of making it to the fourth grade.

"We're placing a lot of emphasis on what happens on a single day," said Martin.

A new policy is being implemented this school year under Oklahoma's Reading Sufficiency Act. Third graders who do not pass the reading portion of their core curriculum test will be held back.

Third grade parent Krystal Joplin said: "They are eight and nine years old. They understand that something's going on, and that this is a big deal. And all that they  know is 'If I don't pass this test, I don't move on with the rest of my friends.'"

Martin tells us the policy is taking both a mental and  physical toll on her students.

"They are still so concerned that they were crying, they were throwing up," she said. "They were exhibiting all those signs of anxiety this morning."

We spoke about the issue with state representative Todd Thomsen who represents Pontotoc County. He says the policy needs a reform.

"In an effort to improve education, we're actually hurting education because we're taking the classroom out of the equation," said Thomsen. "How do we change that mentality?"

In march, the House passed House Bill 2625, which would leave a child's retention plan up to a team of parents and teachers--instead of a test result. That bill is now sitting in the Senate.

"We have a state superintendent who has never been in the classroom, who has no idea," said Joplin--a former teacher. "These are kids with emotions, with problems at home. You have to deal with these kids as children."

Under the Reading Sufficiency Act, there are six exemptions for children who score unsatisfactory on the reading portion. Those mainly pertain to English language learners and students with disabilities. Testing is scheduled to finish on May 2.