State Board of Education Meeting Highlights Sept. 11, 2013


Norman, Bartlesville High Schools Recognized for Debate Award 
Students and staff from Norman and Bartlesville high schools were commended by the State Board of Education in its monthly meeting on Sept. 11, for being named Top 40 Debate High Schools in America by the National Forensic League.

State Superintendent Janet Barresi recognized Lawrence Zhou, a senior; Linda Shipley, Speech and Debate Coach; and LaDonna Chancellor, Principal, from Bartlesville High School. Also pictured are Zhou's parents, Joe and Susan Zhou. (Below) Superintendent Barresi also recognized Nathan Thompson, a senior; Nicky Halterman, a junior; Kasey Harrison, Speech and Debate Coach; and Scott Beck, Principal, from Norman High School.

The National Forensic League National Speech & Debate Tournament is the largest academic competition in the world. To attend, students must place among the top competitors at one of 109 District Tournaments. Qualifiers compete for more than $200,000 in college scholarships in one of 11 main events as well as seven consolation and supplemental events.

National rankings in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate placed Lawrence Zhou at 6th, Nicky Halterman at 15th and Nathan Thompson at 24th.

Special Education Services Presents Sequestration Update
Anita Eccard, Director of Finance for the State Department of Education’s Department of Special Education Services, and Dr. Rene Axtell, Assistant State Superintendent of Special Education Services, updated the board on measures that have saved the department almost $8 million in a little more than a year without cutting necessary services to districts.

The process of reviewing fiscal spending and meeting the needs of districts was the charge of State Superintendent Janet Barresi, Axtell said. The work began as the department prepared for cuts from sequestration, which initial projections showed could be as steep as 20 percent.

“The administrative savings made it possible for our agency to absorb the full amount of sequestered funds for special education,” Axtell said.

Axtell said the department restructured, chopping expenses such as travel for training when webinar training could be held instead, and by looking at services offered through all single-source contracts and considering how those services could be offered and duplicative services eliminated through the Request for Proposal process. She said the department did not cut necessities to districts, though some duplicative or unnecessary services were eliminated or reduced or are being handled by the department instead of through vendors.

She said the only reduction in district special education funds occurred where populations of special education students or the number of students in poverty were decreased.

Superintendent Barresi said similar cost-saving efforts are taking place in other departments throughout the agency.

Board Apprised of Special Education Boot Camp Progress
Tricia Hansen, a Special Education Specialist at the State Department of Education, delivered a report on the progress of Oklahoma’s non-traditional route to special education certification through boot camps.

Since the board approved the boot camps and the process of selecting boot camp providers in the spring, the department has approved five providers and offered two boot camps itself, serving just over 100 participants. Of those, 35 have completed all required components of the program and have received their provisional certificates.

Participants in the boot camp are required to take 120 hours of class time – most being done in the evenings and on Saturdays – and complete 30 hours of field experience.

Boot camps were started as a way to address the shortage in the number of special education teachers throughout the state and the lessened number of students in college teaching programs.

Hansen said the goal is to increase collaboration with all stakeholders and provide support to students once they complete the program and are in the classroom in hopes to retain these new special education teachers.

Board member Bill Price suggested other areas experiencing teacher shortages, such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), look at the boot camp model.

Board Approves Adult Education and Literacy Allocations
The Board approved Adult Education and Literacy allocations of $5.7 million for the 2013-2014 Fiscal Year (FY2014). The vote allows for the awarding of federal and state funding to 31 Adult Learning Centers in Oklahoma and the Department of Corrections.

Adult Education and Literacy classes are conducted for the purposes of: (1) teaching adults to become more literate and to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and self- sufficiency; (2) enabling adults who are parents to obtain the educational skills necessary to become full partners in the educational development of their children; and (3) providing adults the means for completion of an equivalent secondary school education. In 2012-2013, over 19,000 adult learners were served in Oklahoma.

Assessments and A-F Report Card Update Delivered
Dr. Maridyth McBee, Assistant State Superintendent of Accountability and Assessments told board members that at their October meeting they would receive her recommendation for final A-F School Report Card grades and for final test scores from the last school year.

McBee said that currently districts are able to access student test scores through the Single Sign-On portal and are making corrections to the data so that matching open-ended responses to multiple-choice responses as well as getting rid of duplicate scores can be accomplished.

She said since the site went live at the end of August, 35,000 corrections have been made. The office of Accountability and Assessment is conducting weekly webinars to help train districts on how to use the system.

McBee reminded board members that the A-F School Report Card will consist of two main areas this year – student achievement and student growth. Bonus points also can be earned on a variety of factors including attendance, graduation rates and advanced coursework.

McBee said her office will be communicating with districts throughout this school year about the increase in rigor in standards that are to be in place by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

Board Updated on House Bill 2055
General Counsel Kimberly Richey delivered an update on House Bill 2055. The bill includes significant changes to the Administrative Procedures Act, which involves rule promulgation. Among the changes, the bill eliminates the requirement for gubernatorial approval/disapproval of a proposed permanent rule following adoption of the rule, though the governor retains oversight of all rules. It also amends the legislative approval process. The Legislature must now actively approve or disapprove of the rule. Previously, “Inactive Approval” could be obtained.

Proposed Rule Adoption Schedule Shown to Board
Assistant General Counsel Stephanie Moser Goins presented to the board a proposed administrative rule adoption schedule, which she said would begin earlier than normal this year. The latest deadline to submit a Notice of Rule Making Intent (NRI) is Dec. 6.

Administrative rules follow legislation giving guidance to school districts in implementing new laws.

Four rulemaking tracks are proposed this year with a fifth track to be used if flexibility is needed. The first track would be making permanent versions of emergency rules that the State Board of Education approved this summer, Moser Goins said.  Publication of notice of these first rules in the Oklahoma Register would be Oct. 15, with the 30-day public comment period opening on Oct. 16. Rules, when posted, can be found here: http://ok.gov/sde/administrative-rules.

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Last updated on September 13, 2013