The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Feb. 23, 2012, heard details of the review process and the timeline for District Capacity Determinations for schools labeled as Priority on the state’s flexibility request from No Child Left Behind, part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Priority Schools are those in the bottom 5 percent in achievement in reading and mathematics, have a graduation rate below 60 percent for at least three years, or receive a School Improvement Grant. The board received a timeline showing the District Capacity Determination deadline was Feb. 15. Reviewers – made up of education officials, including superintendents, teachers, career tech and higher education as well as SDE personnel and community stakeholders – are being trained and will review and score each school’s documents during a two-week period ending March 9. The findings will be discussed with each district having a priority school and the recommendations presented to the state Board of Education at its regular monthly meeting, March 29. The board at that time is expected to take action to determine which of the Priority Schools should be labeled as C3 Schools – those that will need a more intensive partnership with the State Department of Education to develop an intervention strategy to improve achievement outcomes for students. State Superintendent Janet Barresi stressed that though these schools were identified as Priority on the state’s flexibility request, many have been low-performing for years, and it has been a matter of state law for several years that the State Board of Education must intervene. She said the bottom line is the state must help students who are in chronically failing schools. There are multiple strategies for schools to plan improvement, she said, and board members were given a detailed list of the strategies. Information the board received has been posted on the SDE website.
Also in Thursday’s meeting, Deputy Superintendent Chris Caram updated the board on Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Evaluations. She said the State Department of Education is offering all districts the opportunity to learn more about the TLE Frameworks available for selection by April 16, 2012. Each district is invited to bring one to three individuals to a TLE Regional Informational Meeting, to be held Feb. 28 in the Oklahoma City area, Feb. 29 in Burns Flat and March 1 in Okmulgee. Developers or developers’ representatives from all three Teacher Frameworks and both Leadership Frameworks have been invited to attend and present their frameworks. Districts are receiving more detailed registration information.
In addition, the Board voted to revoke the certificate for Dr. Shelbie J. Williams, superintendent of the former Boynton-Moton School District. The board heard evidence from the State Department of Education’s legal counsel that Williams had violated the state Constitution by advising her school board to grant her a 151 percent increase in salary for fiscal year 2011 and in asking the board to pay a stipend of $20,000 in advance of services rendered. Legal counsel argued that because of the pay increase, the school lost accreditation because it could not pay salaries of certified teachers.
The Board also approved a program for elementary or early childhood teachers to earn math specialist certification for grades prekindergarten through fifth. “Having this certification will help schools and districts prepare their math teachers for Common Core instruction,” said Jeff Downs, executive director of STEM for the State Department of Education. “These teachers will become a resource for their district. We view this as a huge building block to increase the rigor and quality of instruction of mathematics in the PK-5 grades in the state of Oklahoma.”