Superintendent Addresses School Safety
Superintendent Janet Barresi during the regular State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday addressed school safety policies in the wake of last Friday’s school shooting in Connecticut. She said every Oklahoma school is required to have lockdown drills twice a year as part of their school crisis plan. Such safety plans must be developed at the district level, she said, as each district’s geography and proximity to first-responders is different. She said her staff has reached out to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association and asked them to urge each board to review their policies to ensure that all are doing everything possible to keep students safe. She’s also reaching out to districts to ensure districts are addressing issues such as communications with parents, the public and teachers in case of such emergencies.
Board Honors Award Recipients
Superintendent Barresi and State Board of Education members next recognized Coweta Public Schools as the 2012 AP Honor Roll District. The district is among 539 public school districts in the nation to be selected for this award. Districts earn a spot on the honor roll by simultaneously increasing access to Advanced Placement courses for a broader number of students and improving the rate at which their AP students earn scores of 3 or higher on an AP exam. Coweta had a 25 percent increase in the total number of students who took AP exams, excluding Spanish language, and an 8 percent increase in the percentage of students who scored a 3 or above on at least one AP exam other than Spanish language. Coweta Superintendent Jeff Holmes attended the meeting to accept the award.
The board also recognized Jimmy Y. Wu, a senior, and Jessica E. Oehrlein, a graduate, both from the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, as 2012 Oklahoma AP Scholars. Each year, a young man and young woman from each U.S. state are selected as AP scholars. This honor is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on the greatest number of Advanced Placement exams and then the highest average score (at least 3.5) on all AP exams taken.
Norman Public School's Botball/Robotics team also received recognition at Wednesday’s meeting. Teachers David Askey, Adam Lifsics, and Kevin Warren lead the Norman Advanced Robotics team. The combined team from Norman High and Norman North High has won the world championship twice and the South Central Regionals four times. Norman Advanced Robotics was ranked third in the world in 2011 and, this year, they are ranked second in the world out of about 350 teams.
TLE Update Given, Other Academic Measures Approved
The Board heard an update of the state's Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluation System (TLE) from the newly named Executive Director Laura McGee. McGee updated the board on the work of the first TLE working group, which worked with the TLE Commission to recommend Other Academic Measures policies. The board approved the recommendations, which can be found here. Additional guidance will be provided to districts in early Spring 2013. McGee said her next priority will be to establish a second working group to begin providing recommendations on the quantitative portion of the evaluation for teachers of non-tested grades and subjects. The goal is to have a no-stakes Roster Verification pilot in place by spring for districts to test as part of the quantitative portion of the evaluation for all teachers and leaders.
Demographics for School Report Cards Promised
Dr. Maridyth McBee, Assistant State Superintendent of Accountability and Assessments broke down district Report Cards for board members. District report cards are not an average of site grades, but rather are calculated the same way as site report cards, she said, but contain scores from all students in the district. For the category of whole school improvement, middle school criteria was used for districts that serve only pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students, high school criteria was used for districts that serve pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students. McBee said her department has worked to add demographic information for all school districts to their report cards. This information includes poverty rates minority populations and the numbers of students on individual education plans in order to put the report card grades in better context. They also are planning meetings with groups of educators to determine the best way to collect the data used to calculate school grades in the future.
Douglass Alternative Schedule Approved
The board approved deregulation and a statutory waiver amending the alternative school day schedule at Oklahoma City's Douglass High School to allow seniors that are credit deficient to have the maximum time available to complete course work successfully. An earlier audit of the school by the State Department of Education showed 87 of 107 seniors did not have enough credits or had not met Achieving Classroom Excellence requirements.
Board Hears Annual Report on Indian Education
Raymond Rogers, Chairman for the Oklahoma Advisory Council on Indian Education gave the board details for the 2012 report on Indian Education. Rogers said the group is very pleased with the State Department of Education’s recent partnership in developing Native American language certification. He said the group also recently conducted an interim study for Rep. Ann Coody looking at funding for a state Indian Education office. He said the group would like to see more accounting of funds presented to Oklahoma through gaming enterprises and their ancillary businesses. The group also would like to see more Indian history included in social studies teaching, and more professional development for Indian educators. Read the entire report here.
Board Hears Annual College Board Report
Cathy Seward, Executive Director for Advanced Placement and Gifted and Talented Education, gave a report on participation in College Board products such as the SAT test, the PSAT test and Advanced Placement courses. Seward said the state spends about $2.1 million on Advanced Placement programs, which saves students about $4.1 million in college tuition costs as many colleges give credit for scores of three or higher on AP exams. She said about 11,000 public school students scored 3 or higher on AP exams this year, which includes an increase in the number of black and Hispanic students achieving scores of 3 or higher. The state also is seeing more students take the PSAT and increases in the number of minority students taking the SAT. Both tests are indicators of college readiness. See more here and here.
OJA Charter School Vote Postponed
The board voted to postpone a decision on sponsoring a charter school for applicant Sequoyah Enterprises Inc. The applicant would provide educational services to juvenile offenders who reside in its nine residential facilities throughout the state in contract with the state Office of Juvenile Affairs. Board members said they had some questions they would like to have answered before they vote.
Rule Change Schedule Outlined
State Department of Education General Counsel Kimberly Richey gave the board a look at the rule change schedule for the coming year. Most changes planned for this year are minor adjustments to existing rules, she explained. These include slight changes or language cleanup for rules regarding the Oklahoma Alternate Assessment Program, transportation, accreditation and mobile classroom revocation, which will have public comment periods from mid-January to mid-February; and Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) and RSA Summer Academy Reading Program, Native American Language certification, paraprofessional certification, curriculum, revocation procedures, Adequate Yearly Progress, and charter finance, with public comment periods open from early February to early March. Rule changes to A-F Report Cards and Achieving Classroom Excellence requirements will come in late February, she said, to allow more time for input from educators and other interested stakeholders. The public comment periods for these rules will be from late February to late March.