A delayed test is often greeted with a sigh relief, but area fifth and eighth-grade teachers have some concerns about the state writing test date being moved.

The State Department of Education moved the writing test from its usual spot in February to April 3-4, the same month students are tested in other core subjects.

According to SDE Communications Specialist Tricia Pemberton, the dates were moved to accommodate the new company that will be hired to create and administer the test.

“It’s a good thing for us. I don’t know why it was in February, but this gives us longer time to prepare,” said Wilson District Test Coordinator Claudia Labeth.

Teaching language arts at Ardmore Middle School is Gary Cooper, who is in his first of teaching in Oklahoma after teaching in Los Angeles.

“For me coming in and the pressure on test scores, I like the extra time to prepare,” he said.

In addition to a new company, this year’s writing test will require students to read a passage and respond. Previously, students wrote a more creative piece in response to a shorter prompt.

The change is to begin the transition to the Common Core Curriculum Standards. As the transitions continues, written answers, as opposed to multiple choice, will increase to about 40 percent across subjects.

“We’re excited for the extra time, especially with the new format,” said Jefferson Fifth-grade Teacher Lori Hoke.
However, both fifth and eighth-grade teachers are concerned about the pressure that adding another test in April will put on students.

“The only negative is that it is one more added test for students at one time,” Labeth said.

Fifth-grade students are already tested in reading, math, science and social studies. The tests take an entire week for students to complete.

It is the first time students are being tested in all core subjects during the same school year.

“Ten years ago, these students were in diapers, and now they’re on a testing level that is pretty high, higher than what we had,” Hoke said.

In addition, the writing test is often seen as the most difficult, with students sometimes crying from the stress.
“I appreciated the recovery time to get ready for the next tests,” said Jefferson fifth-grade teacher Leslie Ragland. “Now, students will have all five to study for until April.”

Jelana Mosley, Ardmore Middle School eighth-grade language arts teacher, has to prepare students for both the writing and reading tests. The change in dates means that there is no time between the two tests.

“For students, it will be overwhelming,” Mosley said.

Mosely compared the move to sports seasons, because when the test was in February, she and the students had time to focus specifically on reading for a couple months after the writing test was done.

“You don’t play football and basketball all year around,” she said. “You play football, then basketball, so athletes can focus on one then the other.”

Eighth-graders are tested in writing, reading, math and science.

“It’s a stressful year for eighth-graders,” Mosely said. “The Algebra I students have to take an EOI (End-of-Instruction Exam) to pass for graduation, and all students have to pass the reading test for their driver’s license. The pressure is very intense for them.”