Settlement Reached with Testing Vendor
State Superintendent Janet Barresi announced to State Board of Education members during Thursday’s regular meeting that a settlement had been reached between the State Department of Education, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services and testing vendor CTB/McGraw-Hill. The $1.2 million settlement includes almost $400,000 in cash that will be distributed to districts to help pay costs associated with online testing disruptions that happened in April. The remainder of the settlement will be in-kind contributions such as professional development tools that will help teachers assess student performance throughout the school year as well as a technology readiness assessment for all districts in the state. The settlement also includes payment for an independent study to evaluate the impact of the disruption on student test scores.
Board Hears AVID Presentation
Margaret Hensley, the AVID Coordinator at Harding Charter Preparatory High School, and two of her students spoke to board members Thursday about the benefits of the Avid program at their school. The purpose of AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination – is to close the achievement gap for minority and nontraditional AP students by advancing those students into rigorous coursework while providing support. AVID teachers work in teams that receive extensive training. Schools provide tutors for their AVID students as part of a support system. Successful schools will see an increase in the number of minority students taking AP classes and exams as well as an increase in qualifying scores on those exams.
Hensley said the curriculum focuses on writing, information, collaboration, organization and rigor. She said that nationally, 91.3 percent of
students enrolled in AVID go on to attend a four-year college or university; at Harding Charter Prep, 100 percent of graduates were accepted into a 4-year university.
Students, Marsheona Welch and Isaiah Williams, said AVID helped them learn to be more organized and improved their study skills in subjects such as math and English, which improved their grades. Both students spoke of the benefit of tutorial sessions by area college students. Williams, a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University, said he felt he would not have received this college scholarship without the AVID program.
Superintendent Barresi said she asked the group to speak because the board recently approved AVID grants for several school districts throughout the state and it is a model she would like to see expanded to other districts.
Oklahoma Parents and Teachers Program Grants Awarded
Board members approved awarding grants of more than $1 million to 38 school districts for the Oklahoma Parents and Teachers Program. The money will serve an estimated 1,895 families during the 2013-2014 school year. The program provides practical information and guidance to parents regarding the development of language, cognition, social skills and motor development of young children birth to age three. Click here to see a list of districts, amounts awarded and number of families served.
Oklahoma Academic Standards in Fine Arts Approved
The Board also adopted revised Oklahoma Academic Standards for visual arts and general music. Glen Henry, Director of Fine Arts and Physical Education for the State Department of Education, said revisions were made by a group of 27 educators from throughout the state who gathered to review current standards and propose needed changes. Click here to see revised standards for visual arts and here to see revised standards for general music.
New Performance Levels Set for Science, Writing Tests
New performance Levels were set for science and writing tests for students in grades 5 and 8. Dr. Maridyth McBee, Assistant State Superintendent of Accountability and Assessment, explained the change was needed as science standards were updated two years ago to include new skills and objectives; the writing test format has changed from a simple writing prompt to a reading passage from which the student must site to justify responses. Standard setting is the process that allows experts to make judgments about the content that a student should know and be able to do in order to be reported in a specific performance level. Dr. McBee said committees of 19 to 23 members, composed of educators who know the content area, business representatives, and community members, and representative of the state’s geography and student demographics convened in July to establish the new performance levels.
The new levels adopted by the State Board of Education for grade 5 science allow a student with a raw score of 32, a scale score of 700 or 71 percent correct to achieve proficiency; a raw score of 39, a scale score of 765 or 87 percent correct would be considered advanced; a raw score of 25, a scale score of 648 or 56 percent correct would be considered limited knowledge, and 21.2 percent or below would be unsatisfactory. Grade 8 science levels (raw/scale/percent correct) are: 19/658/42% limited knowledge, 26/700/58% proficient, 35/751/78% advanced, 20.3 percent or below answered correctly would be unsatisfactory.
Raw scores are the scores students earn on each test. The raw scores are converted to scale scores to allow for tests to be compared from year to year. Scale scores are then cut into performance levels to determine proficiency.
“The whole idea of proficiency is that students who are deemed to be proficient are truly on track to be ready for college, career and citizenship,” McBee said.
Statewide School Bus Purchasing Contract Approved
A statewide contract for the purchasing of Oklahoma school district buses was approved by board members. The measure creates a price list from which buses may be purchased without going through a separate bid process. Participation in this program will be voluntary for Oklahoma school districts. Student Transportation Director Trent Gibson said the intent is not to limit schools to one type of bus over another, but to speed the purchasing process.
Emergency Rules for A-F Report Card Changes Adopted
The Board adopted emergency rules to implement changes to the A-F school grading system in compliance with recent changes and additions to state law. House Bill 1658 changed the percentage weights for student achievement, student growth and growth of the lowest twenty-five percent of students to 50 percent, 25 percent and 25 percent, respectively. The whole school improvement category was eliminated, and a provision was added for schools to earn bonus points toward their final overall grade. The rules also incorporate changes by House Bill 1071 and Senate Bill 169. HB 1071 stipulates that assessment data of non-resident virtual students shall not be included when calculating the letter grade of the student’s resident district. SB 169 directs how virtual education providers are to be considered under the A-F grading system.