MIAMI – Better, but still needs improvement, was the message from Miami Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hogan. Hogan gave an update on the efforts of the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to improve the current school grading system A-F Report Cards at this week's board meeting.

“The accountability system has been under scrutiny, I guess is the best way to put it, from what we used to have to what we're going to,” Hogan said. “Superintendent (Joy) Hofmeister is going to present a plan to the state school board. There's been a lot in the news about, not just educators and legislators, trying to encourage her to wait a little bit, and the sole reason is they're going to currently try to keep that single identification of a letter grade instead of in multiple areas.”

Adopted into law by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2011, in response to federal and state laws required to set requirements for school accountability, the A to F Report Card system was designed to incentivize schools to strive for and reach high levels of college and career readiness. The system's goal was to grade schools by showing how students within a school are meeting or advancing toward grade-level academic standards in an understandable framework. Since its implementation, educators and others have criticized the system for many reasons.

Hogan said the hope is the proposed improved system will see even more updates before being implemented to include multiple indicators of student performance and achievement.

“The old system was very heavily weighted with the bottom quartile, how they tracked them from year to year, and our bottom quartile kids were counted multiple times, which skewed the overall calculation,” he said. “That was really heavy in schools that are very heavy free and reduced (students), had a lot of ELL (English Language Learners) kids, a lot of minorities, things of that nature and we had kids counted multiple, multiple times. That would definitely skew letter grades at a lot of sites. The new system is going to measure it by following individual students from one year to the next, and it's going to register across the whole spectrum of performance, not just proficiency.”

The new system will place more emphasis on college and career preparedness, chronic absenteeism scores, and English learners and sub groups are individually identified through each indicator and weighted more appropriately.

“It's good progress we're moving in. I think we still need to move to make a few corrections, but we'll get there,” Hogan said. “We're a lot happier with this system, I should say.”

Calculations will now be based on a 90 point scale, with specific points counted for different subjects for upper and lower education levels. Elementary and middle school report cards rubric's are scored as follows: ELA performance 15 points, Math performance 15 points, Science performance 5 points, ELA growth 15 points, Math growth 15 points, English language proficiency assessment progress 15 points, and chronic absenteeism 10 points. For high schools rubrics will be scored as follows: ELA performance 15 points, Math performance 15 points, Science performance 15 points, ELPA progress 15 points, graduation rate 10 points, chronic absenteeism 10 points, and postsecondary opportunity 10 points. Overall scoring will be converted to A-F letter grades.

“Hopefully it's a little easier to understand for not only parents but for something us as educators can comprehend a little better and kind of pre-calculate our scores and kind of know where we're at and track those as we go along.” Hogan said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education is proposing the adoption of the new A-F Report Card system to be voted on at a meeting today, Dec.15 to be submitted subsequently to the state Legislature and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin for final approval.

The report card calculation is the result of months of collaboration between OSDE staff and a 95-member task force representing educators, parents, students, higher education, Career Tech, business and community leaders, tribal nations, lawmakers and organizations advocating for students with disabilities and English learners, according to information from the OSDE.

“This accountability system is the culmination of an intensive and collaborative process that benefited from a diverse array of Oklahoma education stakeholders across the state,” Hofmeister said in a press release. “The new report card calculation is valid, reliable and meaningful, and it corrects glaring shortcomings of the previous A-F system. I am grateful for the Assessment and Accountability Task Force members who have dedicated their time, expertise and perspective in helping shape what we believe will help guide school improvement and provide families and communities with important information about their schools.”

The new calculation gives equal weight to student performance in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics as well as student growth in these subjects. Other indicators include English language proficiency assessment (ELPA) progress, graduation rate, postsecondary opportunities and chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing at least 10 percent of the school year.

“We weren't completely happy, because one thing we pushed for was a multiple indicator grade card. When you put that letter grade out there it just doesn't give a true identifier for stakeholders to really see success or the lack of success of a school,” Hogan said.

The superintendent also reported the MPS District General Fund balance is currently $13,211,005 against last year at this time in 2016 it was $13,500,564.

“You can see the budget came in at $200,000 less,” Hogan said. “We've scaled that back because we are anticipating some cuts. We probably will have more revenue and a little more carry over.”

He said expenditures are up about $8,000 and enrollment has picked up slightly this year to 2,260 at the end of the first semester. The district's enrollment is still substantially lower than last year's 2,391 students. Hogan said the majority of the students have moved outside the district.

“We're still down 131 kids,”Hogan said. “We're losing the majority of students at the secondary level, the middle school and high school.”

The Lunch Fund has increased due to more revenue from last year's $818,698 to this year's $1,072,295.

The annual audit of Fiscal Year 2016 was tabled until the next regular meeting because the auditor Bill Turner of Turner & Associates, PLC was unable to attend the Monday meeting.

The district is preparing for Phase II of the Bond Projects with construction to begin soon at Will Rogers Middle School and Nichols Upper Elementary School. Demolition is scheduled to begin next week and WRMS is in the process of moving their office in preparation.

“A secure entrance will still be in effect even while the construction is underway. We thought that was important,” Hogan said.

Surplus item lists from the IET Department, Washington Elementary, Roosevelt Cafeteria, WRMS and Miami High School were reviewed and approved by the board.

In compliance with new OSSBA policy guidelines the MPS board adopted a Miami Public Schools Board Policy 4009 on Student Residency and a District Foster Care Plan which specifically deals with students in foster care and their residency of legal custody.

“If a student goes into foster care with foster parents of another district, they can choose the school of origin. So, a student if they live in foster care, say in Wyandotte, then by law we have to provide them transportation to that student to their school,” Hogan said. “That's part of the new law that went into effect.”

A Memorandum of Understanding was approved between the district and he Eastern Shawnee Tribal Police Department for a School Resource Officer Program to provide the services of K-9 handler Officer Ray Harvey and K-9 dog Joker and SRP Officer David Sergeant. At the discretion of Miami's SRO Officer Joey Williams the MOU authorizes the K-9 unit to run through Miami schools to locate narcotics or drug paraphernalia.

The agreement was made with the goal to recognize and support the need for safe schools and a safe learning environment for Miami's youth.

The board also approved a one time Christmas stipend for certified and non-certified staff.