- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The educational standards put in place by the Legislature for public school students in math and English are adequate benchmarks to prepare them for college or the workforce, state officials ruled on Thursday.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education voted unanimously that Oklahoma’s current Priority Academic Student Skills, or PASS, standards are “college and career ready.” Two separate committees of university and faculty experts recommended approval after reviewing the standards by comparing them with standards for the ACT, the primary test used in Oklahoma college admission.

The committees, one for math and one for English-language arts, determined that students who mastered the standards would be prepared for first-year university courses such as college algebra or composition.

Oklahoma reverted to the PASS standards under a bill approved this year by the Republican-controlled Legislature to repeal Common Core standards that were set to go into effect this year. The move prompted the U.S. Department of Education to take away a federal waiver of the No Child Left Behind Act and the state’s flexibility over how it spends about $29 million in federal funding.

State education officials said Oklahoma will re-apply for a federal waiver for the 2015-2016 school year, and Gov. Mary Fallin said now that the standards have been certified, she’ll work with the U.S. Department of Education to revisit the loss of the waiver.

“The federal government needs to act quickly to ensure our schools do not lose the use of any federal funds,” Fallin said in a statement.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi, who along with Fallin, was an early supporter of the more rigorous Common Core standards, said in a statement that she was “confused and unsettled” by the regents’ decision.

“My understanding of the definition of college- and career-ready standards is that students who graduate high school should be enter college without needing to take remedial coursework or enter a career without the need for retraining,” Barresi said. “In Oklahoma, our college remediation rate for entering freshmen has hovered at about 40 percent for years.”

The state Board of Education has appointed a steering committee to oversee the development of a new set of standards by 2016.

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