Beginning on Sept. 25, Miami Public Schools is launching the Continuous Strategic Improvement (CSI) Process by an online survey and five community forums.

MIAMI – It was the last straw for Miami Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hogan when State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister sent an email to teachers detailing the new standards for the Oklahoma School Testing Program (OSTP).

With Oklahoma's lack of consistency in testing Hogan has vowed to implement a Continuous Strategic Improvement (CSI) Process for the Miami Public Schools District to develop a guide for accurate, consistent assessment.

“Every district is unique. In Oklahoma, I think we have failed to realize that as a state, particularly our state leaders,” Hogan said. “We continually pump money, time and resources into initiatives that have just not been great for schools, haven’t been great for the state as a whole. Schools are reeling. We’re hurting financially, hurting in finding quality staff, and we’re hurting in what the regard is for the profession in general. We’re going to try to control what we can control. I’m tired of things coming down from the state level, some we’ll have to deal with. I’m tired of holding a label of a single letter grade when it’s not accurate, and it’s been proven not accurate by researchers.”

Hogan said districts will be penalized despite these facts and he doesn’t feel it is reasonable to compare Miami to other districts such as Edmond, Grove or Pryor. He says the Miami district faces unique challenges due to demographics and location.

“The crazy thing about the letter grade system is a school can show growth this year and go from an A to an F. That just makes no sense to me from a common sense approach,” Hogan said. “That was the last straw for me. We welcome improvement and challenges, and we want to set goals, high goals and work to achieve them, but we want some consistency, and supports to help us to reach reasonable goals.”

In November students' families will receive scores from the spring 2017 OSTP assessments. In what Hofmeister calls an “educator-driven process, start to finish” teachers collaborated to create new, more comprehensive academic standards that now align with ACT, SAT and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) benchmarks.

“As a result, there will be a significant decrease in the percentage of students scoring proficient or higher. Don't be discouraged; these results are to be expected when states recalibrate academic standards. This crucial retooling represents Year 1 of a total reset in the way we identify readiness for postsecondary pursuits,” Hofmeister wrote. “It is also important to note that, for the first time, the new school accountability system will employ a true growth model - and these test results will establish the baseline to measure future growth. It would be inappropriate to compare these new scores to those of assessments in previous years since they measure entirely different standards. In fact, it would be statistical malpractice to do so.”

Hogan's frustrated response was expressed to the MPS Staff in an email, which reads in part, “I too share your concerns, especially with the extreme lack of consistency of the testing program. Districts and school sites have never been provided with accurate or consistent data to compare from year to year that could serve as a guide for improvement efforts. This is one of the reasons we are engaging in the Continuous Strategic Improvement (CSI) Process. We all welcome real and tangible data to guide our work. We all welcome feedback from our community, so we know their expectations for student learning, achievement, program offerings, facilities, etc. This (CSI) plan will serve as that guide, a roadmap with real and tangible goals that all stakeholders feel are important for Miami Public Schools to work diligently towards achieving!”

Beginning on Sept. 25, MPS is launching the CSI Process by an online survey and five community forums.

MPS board president Harley Turner said the district is appreciative of the long history of community support and that community members are needed in the strategic planning process.

“In speaking for the Miami Board of Education, I am convinced that having spent the past 35 years involved in the Miami education system, our patrons and area citizens care deeply about the educational process for our students. This has been demonstrated repeatedly by the passage of several bond issues, and their involvement in and through our school enrichment foundation,” Turner said. “I encourage community leaders and fellow citizens to get involved by completing the survey, and when possible attending one of our planned community forums.”

The survey will remain open for input until Oct. 18. It is available on the Miami Public Schools website at www.miami.k12.ok.us. Planning teams involving community, business and school district representatives will use student achievement data, results from the survey and forums and research to develop a continuous improvement strategic plan.

The MPS community forums are scheduled for Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. with the Chamber of Commerce at 11 South Main, 11:30 a.m. with the Intertribal Council at the Miami Activity Center at Miami High School (MHS) at 2000 East Central, and at 5:30 p.m. at the Miami Activity Center at MHS.

On Sept. 26 community forums are scheduled with Rotary at noon at the Paul Thomas Family Center at 1527 North Main Street and 5:30 p.m. at the Miami Activity Center at MHS.

“Superintendent Hofmeister said it best by stating the new Oklahoma School Testing Program, ‘represents a total reset’ and ‘it is inappropriate to compare these new scores to those of assessments in previous years.’ I agree! I am also tired of waiting for our state to get it right and provide us with a consistent and fair program. So, test scores will be released, and Oklahoma school districts, including MPS, will be faced with public scorn. However, do not worry, do not fret as we will develop a plan, a GREAT PLAN, one that is developed and maintained by mutual collaboration with our community and allows us to truly meet the needs of MPS students. Not to continually be a bureaucratic pawn created by BAD legislation!!!” Hogan wrote in the email to MPS Staff.

Hogan said the district wants to hear what the community expects from the school district and hopes to gather this information through the survey and forums to develop measurable, specific goals and a “roadmap” for areas such as college prep courses and facilities for the district.

“We want to give everybody the opportunity,” he said. “I would hope we have a great turnout at these forums, and a great number participate and be involved…We want to hear it all. This will allow us to see where we have success and where we need improvement. We feel like we’ve been spinning our wheels and we want to gain some traction and work with our community to help us move forward to meet these expectations.”

The input gathered will be used by a diversified committee formed from Miami parents, teachers, and community members to develop an imprint and plans for the future. The tentative goal is to have the CSI plan presented to the board by the May 2018 board meeting.

“We will listen, speak up, let your voice be heard. Everybody needs to have an equal voice in this process,” Hogan said. “We can develop a partnership and set a path to improvement…We don’t have a consistent guide from the state so if we can develop that at the local level, we’re going to do it.”

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.