Oklahoma Focuses on Critical Thinking

From the beginning, the Oklahoma adoption of the Common Core standards was rife with trouble, but not the kind of trouble seen in states like Massachusetts. Indeed, it was only in 2014 when politics became truly involved.

Technological Trouble

When states adopt Common Core, they adopt its major test, the PARCC. With the new age of technology already doing away with a vast majority of paper products, it makes sense that this new iteration of standardized testing would utilize computers and the internet, saving both schools and grading companies millions. Unfortunately, Oklahoma isn’t exactly a tech-savvy state.

A survey of all 1,773 Oklahoma schools found that only 1 in 5 had the bandwidth and a sufficient amount of digital devices to properly administer the PARCC. Hooking up over 1,000 schools while providing them all with enough computers is far more expensive than what can be covered with an education system’s budget. With most schools in poor, rural areas, the idea of laying miles of high-speed fiber optic cables needed to get them connected was a little less than possible, especially when big cable companies wouldn’t extend their reach that far.

In the end, Oklahoma decided to withdraw from PARCC, a decision that would set off even more pull back.

Repeal

With PARCC officially dropped, it didn’t take long for the rest of the state to jump on ousting the Core altogether. In 2014 alone, seven bills were introduced to repeal the new standards. In June 2014, Governor Mary Fallin officially repealed the standards, stating severe government overreach. She went on to elaborate that the standards themselves were such a debated issue that it was distracting from actually developing the best education for Oklahoma children. With the repeal, they reverted back to their Priority Academic Student Skills standards. In the coming years, the state is planning on re-evaluating and improving upon their own set of standards to best match the needs of the state. Even though there is much debate still going on, opponents far outweigh the proponents.

Oklahoma’s Future

Common Core arrived just as quickly as it left with no real effect on the students. Without the proper technology and state support, teachers were never truly forced to implement anything, and children never really proved to the community if they were actually ready or not to take on standards focused more on critical thinking. As it stands, Common Core will remain far away from Oklahoma so long as Republicans view it as a negative. However, should the other states that have adopted it show a big difference in improvement, there’s always a chance in the future that Oklahoma will rescind and actually take the time and effort necessary to implement the change.