Anyone who has watched an NFL football game in the past few years is aware of the coach’s challenge rule. The rule allows a head coach to challenge a call made on the field and ask that it be reviewed on instant replay. He does this by throwing a red flag onto the field prior to the next snap of the ball. Coaches are limited to two challenges each game.

When the referee sees the red flag thrown, he calls a timeout and then proceeds to sideline to watch the television replays on a monitor, often called “going under the hood.”

By rule, the referee should overrule a call made on the field only if there is indisputable video evidence that the call was wrong. If the coach’s challenge is sustained, the call is changed and the game continues. If it is overruled, the team forfeits one of its time outs. For this reason, deciding when to challenge an NFL play is as important as the challenge itself.

Apparently, the challenge rule has now come to the Oklahoma State Testing Program. The OSDE sent the following letter to District Test Coordinators yesterday:

TO: District Test Coordinators
FROM: CTB’s Oklahoma Program Team
DATE: October 31, 2013

SUBJECT: Grades 5 and 8 Writing Appeals’ Process

Dear District Test Coordinator,

The Grades 5 and 8 OCCT Writing assessments were administered April 3-4, 2013 and final Individual Student Reports and Summary Reports will be made available through early November. For the 2013 administration, CTB has instituted a process whereby Districts may request a rescore of a student’s Writing score.

To submit an appeal, the district must complete a Rescore Request Form and return it to CTB along with a purchase order. Districts may access the Rescore Request Form by visiting the CTB Oklahoma Web Portal:

Go to and click on the Test Coordinator Support Materials button. Click on Rescore Request. Complete the Rescore Request Form and generate a Purchase Order made out to CTB. Fax the Request Form to CTB at 888-282-0266

The last date a district may request a rescoring of a student’s test is November 15, 2013. Please note that both Rescore Request Form and Purchase Order number must be submitted in order for the rescore to be completed.

Upon receiving the rescore request form, CTB will send an email to the district confirming the receipt of the request for rescore and will rescore the student’s Writing assessment. If the score does not change, there will be a $125 fee per student. If the score does change, there will be no charge. If a student’s Writing score improves, the new score will be reported to the State Department of Education. If a student’s Writing score is lower than the original score, the original score will stand. Districts will receive an annotated writing essay for each student they appealed, regardless of the outcome.

If you have any questions regarding the appeals process, please do not hesitate to contact the CTB Oklahoma Help Desk.

Thank you,
CTB’s Oklahoma Program Team

Let me see if I have this right. If we believe we have writing tests that have been graded inaccurately, all we need to do is go to the CTB website, fill out a form, and . . . oh yeah, generate a purchase order for $125 per test!

If the score improves, then we get our money back. However, if it stays the same or goes down we are out 125 bucks!

Are they really serious? CTB must be trying to recoup some of its $1.2 million settlement with the OSDE for last year’s testing disruptions.

Based on the numerous errors in the first round of grading for these writing tests, what are the chances the score might improve if we throw the $125 challenge flag? How would we know for certain that CTB actually rescores the test? Couldn’t they just pocket our dough and say, “Sorry, no change?” Or is this one of those “wink, wink” scenarios where we pay them money and our scores magically go up?

What does it say when a testing company gambles with the results of state testing? In essence, they are doubling down that their graders were accurate. If they’re wrong, they’re out the cost of rescoring the test. However, they are betting that the school districts will be wrong and they will rake in an extra $125 worth of chips. It’s like a blackjack dealer in Vegas encouraging a player to double her bet, while the dealer knows full well he holds the winning hand!

Is this a new source of revenue for these companies? With the new generation of testing slated to include open response items that will be graded by a combination of human graders and artificial intelligence, the potential for appeals will increase.

The whole thing makes be ill. Remember folks, the state writing tests are NOT required by any federal law. The Oklahoma legislature could eliminate these tests at any time, along with the social studies tests for grades 5, 7, and 8. These tests have negligible value to districts since results come in long after the students have moved on to new grades and/or school sites.

One thing is clearly true–these tests have great value to the testing companies that continue to rake in record profits on the backs of our students and schools.

In fact, I recently found this picture of one of CTB’s executives. His favorite color is clearly GR$$N!