Oklahoma Schools Question Writing Test Results - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Oklahoma Schools Question Writing Test Results

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MADILL, OK -- Back in April, thousands of students across the state of Oklahoma experienced difficulties while taking online state tests  for the second straight year

Now administrators in the state are saying results from the end of year writing tests are deeply flawed.

Administrators at Madill Public Schools are scratching their heads as they search for answers.

Devin Birdsong has been teaching for more than 15 years and says it's a first for him. 

"Very seldom would I have a paper where a student scored exactly the same score in every area on the writing rubric," said Birdsong, an assistant principal at Madill Elementary and former fifth-grade English teacher.

But superintendent Jon Tuck says that's exactly what's happened to more than 70 percent of his fifth- and eighth-grade students.

"That's very unusual which throws up a red flag to us that maybe there's some scoring issues maybe they were not properly scored," said Tuck.

Leading him and other administrators to raise concerns with the state's testing vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Writing test scores show that 67 out of 96 fifth-grade students at Madill Public Schools received  the same score in each of the five writing categories. Administrators say it's a concern that's being raised not just in Madill but in school districts across the state of Oklahoma.

The State Department of Education says it's the result of tough, but consistent grading.

"It is a curiosity but it is not inconceivable," said Phil Bacharach, director of communications for the department.

Bacharach says the rubric used by scorers was done appropriately.

"Once you removed the passages that were copied from the writing passage there was an inadequate amount of original content by which these students were able to get higher scores," said Bacharach.

But administrators and teachers say there are many questions and concerns left unanswered.

"When we change the game in the middle of the game it's very difficult for us to follow," said Tuck. "It's very difficult for us to know what to do."

"We just want some answers," continued Tuck. "We want to know we're teaching correctly"

Tests can be rescored by the testing vendor. But Tuck says if no change is made to the score, districts would have to pay $125 per test--which could cost upwards of $10,000.

The state says CTB/McGraw-Hill is still under contract for next year.