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The Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education met for a work session Monday to discuss its intervention strategy and the Gifted/Talented program.

The following are sketch notes taken during the flow of the meeting. Slide deck PDFs are embedded at the end to more adequately fill in some details.

OKCPS Board took up interventions
OKCPS Board of Education met in a work session Monday (Brett Dickerson)

Board went into executive session to discuss superintendent search as soon as they convened. After only about 20 minutes, they came back out of executive session.

A resolution recognizing Holocaust Recognition Week, April 8-15 was approved 7-0.


Chief Academic Officer Lynn Barnes gave a presentation about current intervention guidance specific to elementary, secondary and at all levels.

“Not only do we need to institute good intervention processes, but we need to improve what we call ‘first instruction’ meaning the regular classroom instruction,” Barnes said.

Lynn Barnes intervention
Chief Academic Officer Lynn Barnes (Brett Dickerson)

Barnes started with 2016, the first year of the plan they are on now, and explained what kinds of intervention have been in place across the district.

Board member Charles Henry asked how teachers are held accountable for using the processes for intervention.

Barnes said that the district has had “hundreds and hundreds” of hours of instruction on how to use the online tools teachers have with the system Mastery Connect.

Board member Ruth Veales asked if upper level of leadership is meeting these demands. She said that some of the principals and teachers did not understand how the tools were to be used and so did not use them.

Veales: “All of this is pretty, but it doesn’t matter if it’s not being used.”

Barnes said that we don’t have a comprehensive system that tracks the interventions that are being used or not used.

Acting Supt. Rebecca Kaye said that instructional coaches are responsible for using the tools and coaching teachers on how to use the tools. She mentioned that this is a part of the equity effort in the district and that instructional coaches are being paid out of Title I funds.

OKCPS board Kaye intervention
Acting Superintendent Rebecca Kaye (Brett Dickerson)

Performance assessments are three times a year. Comprehensive assessments are twice.

Board member Carrie Jacobs asked how this is similar to the Summit system Barnes said that Summit has questions and then real-world activities. All schools that are using Summit are using real-world activities.

Board Chair Paula Lewis asked what about the kids who already understand and assess well.

Barnes responded that the old way was “yell and tell” which was mostly whole-class direct instruction. But now, teachers are expected to instruct to different levels with a mix of activities and small-group instruction.

Veales responded that in some schools teachers are just teaching to the lowest level of knowledge in their classroom and not teaching to all levels.

Barnes said that teachers are expected to use a concept of the inverted pyramid which is to instruct to the reality that the biggest groups are below grade level.

Best “first instruction” has to happen hand-in-hand to intervention, said Barnes.

Ruth Veales intervention
Board Member Ruth Veales (Brett Dickerson)

“Standards-based classroom instruction that employs high impact instructional strategies is considered ‘best first instruction,’” said Barnes.

We have to set up a system in which all students are still receiving core instruction. Core learning has to stay on track for all students.

Intersession and summer intervention are not being voluntarily taken advantage of to a large enough extent that it is making a large difference.

Barnes said that real-time instruction has to take place during the regular school year.

Veales asked whether we are doing well enough with communication. She argued that if parents know that their child needs intervention, they will make sure that the children are there for it.

Veales recommended that board members have community forums so parents and the community know how important remediation is.

Core instruction must become “standards-based” and not just “standards-referenced,” said Barnes.

What needs to be happening?

“Deep learning will bridge the equity gap,” says Barnes. Test prep will not lead to proficiency.

Multi-tiered system of supports

Barnes introduced multi-tiered system of supports or MTSS.

“Two-thirds of our kids show needs for intervention,” said Kaye from an assessment done recently by mental health professionals.

“Oklahoma is one of the lowest states in the nation when it comes to mental health,” said Kaye.

“I have a problem saying that 70 percent of our kids are traumatized,” said Henry in response to study numbers.

“They may come from neighborhoods where their lives are hard. But, when we say that students are traumatized, we give people the view that these kids are just animals and nothing can be done with them,” said Henry.

Barnes presented the five stages of intervention:

• Request for assistance
• Consultation with IAT – Intervention Assistance Team
• Problem identification and analysis
• Develop and implement interventions
• Evaluate effectiveness

Timeline for implementation would start in June and go through July 2019.

Board member Rebecca Budd says that she is disappointed that “we haven’t done a deep dive” into what is causing the problems. Where are the critical needs of our district? What is the district plan to address it?

Kaye and Barnes responded that this plan will allow sites to tailor their work according to what the site needs and those needs will be very different.

Gifted and Talented

A presentation about the district’s Gifted and Talented program was presented by the program’s district leaders: Leigh Parks, secondary G/T coordinator; and, Theresa Balan, elementary G/T coordinator.

Veales cited some studies suggesting that over 80 percent of teachers are white and the likelihood of black boys being identified as G/T are extremely low.

District specialists responded that they have worked hard to have a broad spectrum of people on their committee, including black and Hispanic members.

Their presentation started with “current reality.”

District data shows that close to 2250 students are identified as having high intellectual abilities. The total number of students in the district are near 46,000.

There is a considerable discussion among board members about how students are identified and how those identified break down according to race.

The fifth slide in their deck shows the district data comparing overall percentages by race in the student body compared to what percentage of that race are identified as G/T.

The leaders emphasized that all teachers are being taught how to use G/T methods and that is bringing up the rigor for every classroom.

Other items

A discussion flowed from plans for the state teacher strike to what to do with summer school if make-up days start taking up more time in June.

Will the district be able to have summer school if teachers have worked so late they don’t want to sign up for summer school?

The Board discussed the possibility of not having summer school but offering tutoring under Title I.

Kaye said that summer school is not working well anywhere in the U.S.

Public Information Officer Beth Harrison announced that the renaming committees are kicking off this week.

Rev. Lori Walke will be facilitator leader for “closed meetings” where groups of respondents and volunteers from among parents and neighborhood members will process the renaming of their schools.

Barnes announced that the Curriculum Department is developing resources for parents to use during the teachers strike if it happens.

Harrison says that they are polishing up the plan and will have an updated FAQ on the website Wednesday.

Board member Jace Kirk is coordinating with the faith community in terms of activities and other provisions during the strike.

Slide Deck for Intervention Plan presentation

20180326.Intervention & MTSS PLANS.BoardWorkSession.Revised

Slide deck for Gifted-Talented presentation

GT Board Update March 26 2018

Last Updated March 26, 2018, 11:35 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor