The importance of doing well on state tests has increased dramatically for high school students who will be sophomores in the fall.

The importance of doing well on state tests has increased dramatically for high school students who will be sophomores in the fall.

The pressure has gone up as well.

Due to changes in state law, members of the class of 2012 will have a new requirement in order to graduate. They will have to obtain a satisfactory or better score on the End-Of-Instruction exams in Algebra I and English II, as well as in two of the five other EOI exams: Algebra II, biology I, English III, geometry and United States history.

The EOI tests aren’t new. Only the linkage between good performance on the tests and being allowed to graduate has been added.

Prior to the class of 2012, all students were required to take the EOI exams when they finished with a particular course, but the exams did not affect a student’s ability to graduate.

The new law will not affect Gavin Teafatiller. As a junior, he has already taken the exams, which he viewed as “like another assignment.”

He appreciates the exams now having a purpose.

“I don’t want to have to take something if it doesn’t count for anything,” he said.

The change in policy is based on the Achieving Classroom Excellence Act of 2005 as Revised in 2006. Educators and students agree on the importance of standardizing the curriculum.

“We have to get kids ready for a global economy,” Plainview High School principal Tim Parham said.

“It’s a good idea because it puts the students together, and they have the same curriculum,” Plainview senior Jacob McDaniel said.

The courses that are to be tested are all required for graduation in Oklahoma.

“We make sure we are focusing on the items the State Department has outlined,” Parham said.

However, in addition to the course content, teachers also prepare students specifically for the EOIs. The exams are taken on computers, except for the writing portions of the English I and II exams.

“All students were able to take a practice test online,” Ardmore High School assistant principal Mark Wilson said.

Ardmore City Schools also incorporate the tests into the tested courses throughout the course of the year to get students prepared for the EOIs.

“We set classroom tests like EOIs,” Take Two Academy director James Meece said.

Plainview does benchmark testing every six weeks over the objectives that have been covered up to that point.

“We try to simulate as much as we can so it looks familiar,” Parham said.

By the time many students sit down to take the test, they should feel comfortable with the material and the set-up of the test. In fact, some students might feel over-prepared.

“I get bored. I don’t want to listen about the test. I just want to take it and get it over with,” Fox junior Kyle Teafatiller said.

School officials make sure conditions are right for students to test without distractions.

“We don’t move kids around. They are held in the same class as long as testing is going on and the bells don’t ring,” Wilson said.

However, other students are affected by “test anxiety,” something many school officials worry about considering the new importance attached to EOI testing.

“It’s the same anxiety they would have for a semester test,” Lone Grove High School counselor Carolyn Roberts said.

School officials work hard to identify and help students who may suffer from test anxiety before they take the EOIs.

“It’s high stakes testing. Some kids have normal test anxiety. We try to visit with kids throughout the year and go over test-taking techniques,” Parham said.

“We take each individual as it goes. The teachers are aware before the test and help a student with anxiety before hand,” Roberts said.

“We start in January working with them on test-taking tips,” Meece said.

Even with all the help and preparation, students may still not make a satisfactory score. Student options after failing the required tests are still being formulated. For now, it’s simply a matter of retaking the class.

“There is a strong correlation that they didn’t pass the class, so the most common way to remediate is by retaking the class,” Parham said.

Roberts agreed.

“Most will do well on the test if they pass the class,” Roberts said.

Students are able to retake the exams after retaking the class or after receiving remedial help.

Ardmore City Schools will be hosting a six-week Math Academy before school starts to help remediate students who have problems with the subject. Participants will be able to retake the Algebra I test at the end of the program. Ardmore has no set plan for English remediation yet.

“The students get the basics each year in English. Algebra is more specialized,” Meece said.
Lone Grove also has extra remediation courses available.

“We have remediation in math and English already in place even though they haven’t been required, to help them maintain and pass their classes,” Roberts said.

The Oklahoma State Board of Education is looking at other ways students can fulfill the testing requirement in the event they fail the EOI.

“There is a steering committee looking for alternative tests for students who fail. They should be finished by the end of this year,” said Shelly Hickman, State Department of Education public affairs director.

Alternatives may include scores on other standardized tests such as the ACT, SAT and Advanced Placement exams, Hickman said, adding nothing has been finalized.

However, school officials remain positive about the added pressure of the exams.

“(Students) are starting to realize the importance of it. We are pleased with their efforts,” Wilson said.

“It’s an exciting time to be in education. I think we’re going to go through an evolution,” Parham said.

Contact Daily Ardmoreite writer Jennifer Lindsey at  jennifer.lindsey@ardmoreite.com