In The Know: Unsatisfactory test scores during 2 days of server crashes to be disqualified

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that all less than satisfactory student scores from two days in April will be thrown out in response to a study on technical problems that disrupted student testing. Oklahoma high school graduates are showing improved college readiness on ACT tests. NewsOK reports that Oklahoma City School Board members are expected to appoint state Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez as interim superintendent.

Oklahoma Policy Institute released a report outlining action items to improve Oklahoma’s health. Urban Tulsa Weekly discussed the debate over measuring Medicaid outcomes. NewsOK writes that a quadruple homicide in Oklahoma City shows why Oklahoma needs to better fund mental health treatment.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon said it will take 26 to 28 separate bills and 6 to 8 days to reenact lawsuit reform legislation that thrown out by the state Supreme Court. A state information technology employee was banned from OKDHS buildings after sending an email to lawmakers and the media questioning whether the department was wasting money on an updated logo and rebranding project. The city hiring restrictions put in place by Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett may continue indefinitely.

The Number of the Day is how many veteran and armed forces families with children that receive the EITC or low-income child tax credit in Oklahoma. In today’s Policy Note, Dr. Aaron Carroll explains that conservatives don’t have a real alternative to Obamacare because Obamacare is the conservative alternative.

In The News

Unsatisfactory scores during 2 days of state education testing to be disqualified

All less than satisfactory student core curriculum scores from two days in April will be thrown out in response to a study on technical problems that disrupted student testing, the Oklahoma State Department of Education announced Tuesday. Officials told the state board of education that an outside consultant’s evaluation found that the only “statistically significant” impact was for seventh- and eighth-graders taking the Algebra I test, but broader action was necessary. A final head count of the number of students whose scores will be disqualified won’t be known until the state’s test results are finalized in late September.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma graduates show improved college readiness on ACT benchmarks

More Oklahoma graduating seniors demonstrated college and career readiness in four core subjects on the ACT college entrance exam last year than in the previous years, according to ACT’s 2013 Condition of College and Career Readiness report released early Wednesday. The percentage of the state’s 2013 graduates who met all four benchmarks in English, reading, science and math rose to 23 percent, up from 20 percent the previous two years, it said. Oklahoma’s percentage has risen steadily from 17 percent in 2008, data shows. The report is based on the results of the 2013 ACT college entrance exam. Nationally, 26 percent of students met all four benchmarks, the report said.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Sources say OKC Public School board to appoint state official as interim superintendent

Oklahoma City School Board members are expected to appoint state Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez as interim superintendent when they meet next week, The Oklahoman has learned. Lopez, a longtime civic and community leader, is the board’s leading candidate for the interim job to replace outgoing Superintendent Karl Springer, according to sources close to the decision who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been finalized. A search firm has been selected to find the permanent successor.

Read more from NewsOK.

Acting Items for Oklahoma: Health Care

This is the third of a seven part series by Oklahoma Policy Institute to propose public policy action items for the state of Oklahoma. Oklahomans are some of the unhealthiest people in America, now ranking 43th overall in a national ranking of health indicators and outcomes. The latest rankings from the United Health Foundation shows that we’re on pace to have the highest rate of obesity in the nation within the next decade, our residents smoke at higher rates than most other states, and only Alabama and Mississippi have higher rates of cardiovascular disease deaths.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Measuring Medicaid

Bright red letters spelled out the words “no significant improvements,” while a voice intoned that Medicaid “doesn’t even improve physical health.” The message came as part of an online advocacy campaign against Medicaid expansion, based on findings from a study of physical health for recently-enrolled Medicaid patients. The Oregon study, as it’s come to be known, has been held up by some as proof that efforts to expand Medicaid are misguided. But while the study results published in May failed to prove a link between Medicaid enrollment and improvements in certain markers of physical health, others have said no simplistic conclusions should be drawn. One of the Oregon study’s authors, Jonathan Gruber, wrote that the spot “represents the negative findings of the study without talking about the positive findings: the fact that we find enormous improvements in mental health and in financial security.”

Read more from Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Quadruple homicide in Oklahoma City puts renewed focus on mental health

Those who work in the mental health field in Oklahoma must shudder at stories like Daniel Green’s, not just because it’s horrific but because there are so many other potential tragedies out there. Green, 40, is accused of shooting to death four family members last week in Oklahoma City. One of those killed was a teenage girl, another an infant boy. Green told police he doesn’t remember what transpired because he blacked out. His father said Green had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Oklahoma ranks among the top five nationally for its rates of mental illness, and among the bottom five in terms of state funding budgeted per capita for mental illness.

Read more from NewsOK.

Speaker Shannon says lawsuit reform fix may take 26-28 bills, 6-8 days

Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, suggests that it will take 26 to 28 separate bills to reenact the lawsuit reform legislation of 2009. That stricken law is the sole focus of a special legislative session Gov. Mary Fallin has called to start Sept. 3. The Oklahoma state Supreme Court in June struck down the omnibus tort reform legislation, originally passed four years ago with bipartisan support. The Court said the original measure dealt with multiple subjects, in violation of state constitutional requirements that legislation be limited to a single subject. Shannon anticipated six to eight days of legislative work, but said five might be enough.

Read more from CapitolBeatOK.

Email gets Oklahoma state employee removed from building

A state information technology employee says he was escorted from work under armed guard Monday after sending an email to lawmakers Friday questioning whether the Oklahoma Department of Human Services was wasting thousands of dollars on an updated logo and rebranding project. David Porta, a planning specialist who works on DHS information technology projects as an employee of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said he became incensed Friday after learning at a meeting that DHS officials were preparing to launch a rebranding effort that would involve changing the agency’s logo and using the acronym DHS for the agency instead of OKDHS. Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for DHS, said Porta is misinformed and was out of line.

Read more from NewsOK.

City of Tulsa’s hiring freeze to be ‘indefinite’

The city hiring restrictions put in place by Mayor Dewey Bartlett may continue indefinitely, officials said this week. Bartlett implemented a “soft” freeze on general fund positions in April, saying the city would re-evaluate it based on sales-tax revenue in the fiscal year that ended June 30. He said this week that the city has largely filled positions only when a vacancy would create an emergency, per the conditions of the soft freeze, and would continue that practice for the foreseeable future.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

We turn people away every day who need help because they aren’t ill enough, and we just don’t have enough money to pay our contractors to hire enough therapists and provide enough medication to reach people. So then they get sicker, and finally, they do meet the criteria.

-Terri White, director of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (Source:

Number of the Day


The number of veteran and armed forces families with children that receive the EITC or low-income child tax credit in Oklahoma

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2010

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Obamacare is the conservative alternative on health care policy

The biggest problem, and one that few Obamacare opposers will confront, is that the ACA is a relatively conservative solution. It’s not a government system, like the VA or the UK’s. It’s not a single-payer system, like Medicare or Canada’s. It’s not even a universal public system with a private overlay, like France’s. It’s a massive expansion of private insurance and Medicaid with an individual mandate and subsidies. It’s Romneycare writ large. It’s right out of Heritage Foundation’s playbook. By eliminating that as anything even remotely acceptable, conservatives have eliminated almost anything that might work.

Read more from The Incidental Economist.

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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