OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) has scheduled two education interim studies to examine the availability of Advanced Placement courses in public high schools and to take a deeper look at Work Ready Initiatives to better prepare students for the workforce.
The studies will take place at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Sept. 4 in Room 432-A at the state Capitol.
“I want to make sure Oklahoma students have every avenue for taking rigorous coursework in high school and that they have full access to training and certification programs so they are prepared for college or the work force by the time they graduate,” Baker said. “Having a skilled and educated workforce not only benefits the students but broadens our job market and will boost our state’s economy to everyone’s benefit.”
The study on Advanced Placement (AP) courses, at 8:30 a.m., will examine the availability of these courses in schools across the state. Additionally, it will allow lawmakers to look at data that shows the success rates of students in those courses to give them ideas on potential legislation that could increase student outcomes by providing more of these rigorous curriculum options to students.
Baker said the focus is not to push a particular coursework vendor, but simply to show lawmakers and anyone else interested the value of AP coursework. Studies show that students who take AP courses in high school are better prepared for college coursework. In addition, students can earn college credits based on scores on corresponding AP tests. This saves students and parents thousands of dollars in college tuition, she said.
AP courses, however, are only one way for high school students to earn college credit. Also very popular are concurrent or dual enrollment courses. This study is in no way intended to diminish those offerings, Baker said, but merely to ensure schools are apprised of all of their options to help prepare students for higher education and the workforce.
Speakers scheduled to speak on this subject are:
• Ryan Walters, executive director of Oklahoma Achieves, an education initiative of the State Chamber;
• Representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (SDE);
• Shawna Nord, career and academic connections academic coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology (CareerTech);
• Rebecca Wilkerson, executive director of the State Virtual Charter School Board; and
• Nate Meraz, superintendent of Elgin Public Schools
• Dr. Sarah McKenzie, executive director of the Office for Education Policy at the University of Arkansas
The Work Ready Initiatives study, at 10:30 a.m., will focus on connecting internships or work study options with students and businesses in the hope of providing more training and certifications opportunities to students.
Some districts and counselors are forging ahead on this, and the interim study will take a look at their successes, Baker said. The study also will examine the partnership between CareerTech and Higher Education in training students in much needed areas such as nursing and other fields of high demand.
“We must train our workforce in skills that are marketable and job ready,” Baker said.
Speakers on this topic will include:
• Stephen Pruitt, president, and Meagan Crowe, policy analyst, with the Southern Regional Education Board;
• Lesa Hefner, teacher of the year for Duncan Public Schools;
• Don Raleigh, superintendent of Pryor Public Schools;
• Representatives from the SDE; and
• Dr. Marcie Mack, state director of CareerTech.