In The Know: Nearly 8,000 third graders fail reading exam and face retention

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 or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zebre.

Download today’s In The Know podcast here or play it in your browser:

Today you should know that nearly 8,000 Oklahoma third graders failed a high-stakes reading exam and are at risk of being retained in the third grade. Across the state, 15.7 percent of third graders failed the exam. That compares with 11.4 percent last year and is the highest failure rate in the past five years. In the state’s two largest school districts, Tulsa and Oklahoma City, about 1 in every 3 third graders failed the test. The state Department of Education received criticism for releasing test score data to the media before parents or educators could be notified. The release of data led to KFOR TV news falsely reporting that every third grader had failed in Crutcho Public Schools.

Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill that would set up an income tax checkoff to help pay for legal aid for victims of domestic violence. She said the fund would be redundant with another checkoff that funds victims of domestic violence. The Tulsa World questioned the Legislature’s veto override that will prevent local law enforcement officials from blocking purchases of automatic weapons and silencers. University of Tulsa Vice President Susan Neal wrote in the Tulsa World that by underfunding education, Oklahoma is choosing to be cheap now instead of valuable later. On the OK Policy Blog, Rose State College professor Howard Koerth wrote that we won’t be prepared for the future if we keep cutting taxes and services.

The executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers discussed how expected budget cuts for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority could put many providers of long-term senior care out of business. Without additional state appropriations, Oklahoma is risking the loss of 174 drug court slots. Drug courts help Oklahomans with substance abuse problems find treatment and stay out of prison. The president of the Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center spoke to NewsOK about her push to address the shortage of primary care providers in rural Oklahoma.

The Tulsa World reported that unlike protocols in other death-penalty states, Oklahoma has no fail-safes or backup plans in case something goes wrong during an execution. The association that oversees high school athletics in Oklahoma has agreed to stop providing free playoff passes to state legislators and will pay a $1,200 fine for not disclosing the gifts to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. A warning from scientists that Oklahoma may be hit by a major earthquake has caused a run on earthquake insurance policies in the state. Parts of Oklahoma are drier now than during the Dust Bowl, though experts say a Dust Bowl repeat is unlikely because of improved soil conservation. The Tulsa World spoke to television writer and producer Nancy Miller, who is developing a dramatic miniseries on the Tulsa Race Riot.

The Number of the Day is how many Oklahoma third-graders could be retained for scoring ‘unsatisfactory’ on high-stakes reading tests. In today’s Policy Note, Vox discusses how the United States lags behind the rest of the world in policies supporting working mothers.

Nearly 8,000 Third Graders Fail Reading Exam and Face Possible Retention

Any hopes that Oklahoma third graders would see improvements in reading proficiency this year were dashed Friday after results from the state reading test showed 7,970 students failed the exam and are at risk of being retained. Preliminary data from the State Department of Education shows 15.7 percent of third graders scored unsatisfactory, the lowest of four levels, on the reading portion of the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test. That compares with 11.4 percent last year and is the highest failure rate in past five years.

Read more from Oklahoma Watch.

See also: One-third of Tulsa Public Schools’ third-graders fail reading test from the Tulsa World; Nearly 30 percent of Oklahoma City third-graders score unsatisfactory on state reading test from NewsOK

Oklahoma Department of Education’s handling of data release criticized

The author of legislation that would restore control over the lowest-scoring third-graders on state reading tests to parents and educators said she questions the political motives of Friday’s release of preliminary data by the Oklahoma Department of Education. Meanwhile, another state lawmaker blasted the Legislature for not adequately funding remedial reading and State Superintendent Janet Barresi for her take on Friday’s test results. State Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa, went to extraordinary lengths this week to keep alive House Bill 2625, which she co-sponsored with Sen. Gary Stanislawksi, also R-Tulsa.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

See also: The shameful treatment of Crutcho Public School from A View from the Edge

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin vetoes domestic violence fund checkoff over duplication concerns

Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a bill Friday that would set up an income tax checkoff to help pay for legal aid for victims of domestic violence. She said the fund would be redundant. There is already a checkoff on income tax forms for taxpayers who wish to contribute part of their tax refund to a fund for victims of domestic violence, said Alex Weintz, her spokesman. Having two similar funds in the checkoff program could cause one or both to fail to reach donation requirements needed for a fund to stay in the program, Weintz said. Fallin’s rejection of House Bill 2527 was her 25th veto of this legislative session, the most since she became governor.

Read more from NewsOK.

Taking away police chief discretion on machine gun permits wasn’t right choice

It is puzzling that the Oklahoma Legislature chose House Bill 2461 to be the place where it took its stand. Without debate or discussion, the state Senate voted unanimously Thursday to override Gov. Mary Fallin’s veto of the bill, which removes the discretion of local law enforcement officials to sign off on applications for machine guns, silencers and other weapons regulated by the National Firearms Act. We believe in the Second Amendment. But the regulation of automatic weapons and silencers is constitutional and court-tested.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Susan Neal: Invest in a valuable Oklahoma

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers looks at what states produce, how much it costs them to produce it, and the premium – or “value added” – that they can charge for their finished goods and services. Oklahoma’s value added ranks 42nd in the nation. In other words, “Made in Oklahoma” is one of the least profitable brands in the U.S. This is painful to admit, and it runs against what we know about our state’s strong work ethic. Remembering the adage “Work smart, not hard,” we have to wonder: If our backbone isn’t the problem, maybe our strategy is. Educating its citizens is a core responsibility of our state government, established in Article XIII of the state Constitution. Unfortunately, driving home the well-worn admonition that “timing is everything,” our Legislature and governor have approved an income tax cut before adequately funding a primary state function.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Everyone contributes, everyone benefits

Taxes in our society operate like a pot luck dinner; everyone gives a little and we all get to share of the feast. Those who call for tax cuts, while at the same time wanting and expecting the state and social services they have grown accustomed to, are like people who would go to a pot luck dinner wanting to eat ham, potatoes, and homemade rolls while only taking a pack of Oreos or a couple packets of Koolaide. Taxes are an investment in our society, state, and nation. Taxes are an investment in our future, our children’s future, and our old age. Taxes are an investment in our potential as a nation, a state, and as individual communities.

Read more from the OK Policy blog.

Rebecca Moore: Legislature, don’t cut funding to long-term caregivers

Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens are entering long-term care facilities sicker and frailer than ever before. Those who care for them have the job of nurturing, aiding and comforting a generation that’s given so much. It’s not a duty we take lightly. The sad paradox is that we’re being asked to do so with less than ever before. While other Medicaid providers have enjoyed modest to healthy funding increases from the Legislature in recent years, the long-term care profession has not. According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, long-term care facilities operate at about 12 percent below cost. OHCA currently reimburses long-term care facilities for Medicaid patients at an average of $140 per day. The average cost per patient per day is $158.

Read more from NewsOK.

Oklahoma facing loss of drug court funds

It’s hard for Cruise to talk about her dark times, but she wants to save the program she credits for saving her: drug court. Oklahoma is at risk of losing 174 slots, which means 174 people who could have been in the program will be going to prison or jails. The positions are being eliminated in the state due to a federal grant expiring and no funding source stepping into its place. Providers in rural areas are particularly worried. “People’s lives depend on this program,” Cruise said. “I don’t know why this could even be considered. I’ve been sober eight months. If it weren’t for drug court, I’d have been dead in a year.”

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma State University’s medical school chief is passionate about improving rural health care

Kayse Shrum, Coweta pediatrician and president of the Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center, burned up the turnpike to Tulsa the week before last to help man an exhibit booth for the center’s osteopathic medical school at the Cox Convention Center — where thousands of high school students converged for the statewide convention of the Future Farmers of America. Why? Shrum passionately believes the future of Oklahoma’s health care hinges on more outstanding small-town youths becoming doctors.

Read more from NewsOK.

Secrets still shroud Clayton Lockett’s execution

Clayton Lockett’s death took nearly four times as long as most Oklahoma executions because a failed IV line started by a medical professional whose credentials remain secret under state law slowly leaked a drug combination that experts had warned could potentially be inhumane, a Tulsa World investigation has found. When state officials realized what was happening, they technically halted Lockett’s execution, but they had no backup drugs to restart the process. Unlike protocols in other death-penalty states, Oklahoma’s policy contains few — if any — fail-safes or backup plans in case something goes wrong during an execution.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association to pay $1,200 fine

The association that oversees high school athletics in Oklahoma has agreed to stop providing free playoff passes to state legislators. It also has agreed to pay $1,200 in civil penalties to the state for not disclosing the gifts to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission the last three years. The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association was not trying to influence legislators or legislation, its executive director said. “OSSAA provided playoff passes to any legislator who requested them each school year so that they could be better informed about our activities,” the executive director, Ed Sheakley, said in a news release Friday

Read more from NewsOK.

There’s Now A Run On Quake Insurance In Fracking-Heavy Oklahoma

A warning from U.S. scientists that Oklahoma may be hit by a major earthquake has caused a run on insurance policies for tremors in the heartland state, adding to the woes of residents already in the firing line of devastating tornadoes. Quakes have typically been infrequent in Oklahoma, yet not unheard of. But in the past year, minor tremors have hit the state hundreds of times, raising worries the big one may be just around the corner. “The rate of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by about 50 percent since October 2013, significantly increasing the chance for a damaging quake in central Oklahoma,” the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said earlier this week.

Read more from Business Insider.

Drought Getting Worse Than Dust Bowl

Experts say the chances of a Dust Bowl repeat are unlikely because of improved soil conservation, but parts of four Southern Plains states are drier now than during that infamous time in the 1930s. The multiyear drought has brought on more dust storms in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas. University of Texas-El Paso geology professor Tom Gill says long droughts lead to reduced land cover, which makes it more difficult to keep the soil anchored to the ground.

Read more from Public Radio Tulsa.

Tulsa race riot miniseries gets local perspective

Writer and producer Nancy Miller grew up just down the turnpike. She lived in Oklahoma City and visited Tulsa many, many times. But she never heard anything about the Tulsa race riot of 1921. “I stumbled upon it about 10 years ago when I was watching TV and saw a documentary on HBO,” Miller said in a recent phone interview. “I sat there with my jaw on the floor because I grew up in Oklahoma City and never saw this in any history books — grade school, high school or college — and it’s an unbelievable story that needs to be told.” Miller and her research team of Valerie Woods, Dayna North and Kristin Palombo were in Tulsa last week for a public forum and meetings with community leaders to prepare for development of a TV project about the riot for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network.

Read more from the Tulsa World.

Quote of the Day

“Everyone likes to talk about the success these programs have had in Florida, but nobody mentions how Florida funded their programs more than five times as much as we have in Oklahoma. That lack of vision and foresight is reflected in these scores.”

– Rep. Mike Shelton, speaking about the thousands of Oklahoma students who may be retained in the third grade after failing a high-stakes reading test (Source: http:/

Number of the Day


Number of Oklahoma third-graders who may be retained for scoring ‘unsatisfactory’ on high-stakes reading tests.

Source: State Department of Education.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

If America really valued mothers, we wouldn’t treat them like this

On Mother’s Day, a video from went viral. In it, the company pretended to recruit for a seemingly impossible job. They told applicants that the job requires you to stand all day and put in 135 hours a week — or more. It means you have to work nights and weekends. There’s no time off, and the hours increase around Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. The position requires skill in finance, medicine and food preparation. It entails intense physical labor and a total collapse in your personal life. Oh, and it pays absolutely nothing.

Read more from Vox.

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.