And excerpt from the newsOK article. In this article, Paula Burkes interviews Jan Barrick, founder of Alpha Plus which provides training, tools and curriculum for schools.
Q&A: School Curriculum should be based on data aligned to Oklahoma's standards.
Jan Barrick is a former special education teacher and the founder of Alpha Plus, an Oklahoma company that provides training, tools and curriculum for schools.
How is data being used to improve Oklahoma schools?
While I believe in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s goal of Oklahoma becoming a Top 10 state in education, we have a ways to go. I find the difference between an A school and an F school is leadership based on data. As taxpayers, we should ask why some schools excel even though statistically the odds are stacked against them while others earn failing grades. Take Achille, which is in the southeast corner of our state, for example. Nearly 70% of the students live in poverty, and a high percentage of the children have disabilities. Drug trafficking and crimes associated with it are well documented in the counties that border north Texas, which is just a dozen miles from Achille. Despite these challenges, Achille High School has earned an A on all of its state report cards over the last seven years. The students in Achille aren’t smarter than students in an F school, but their leadership team makes decisions based on data.
What is their plan? How do they do it when other schools don’t?
Using data aligned to Oklahoma’s standards is the secret weapon. Achille educators make certain they are teaching the Oklahoma Academic Standards throughout the year — not just in the days before the state test. State report cards measure how well students have mastered the standards they should have been taught for each grade level, so the curriculum teachers use is really important. The interim assessments Achille uses are written specifically for Oklahoma’s Academic Standards. This provides reliable data about each student’s progress that can be used to make adjustments in teaching and to determine remediation needs of each child. Using tests that aren’t written to Oklahoma standards really isn’t worthwhile because it skews the data.
Why isn’t that happening?
Follow the money. National companies claim they can “help” schools improve student proficiency. The problem is, national companies don’t write curriculum or programs based on Oklahoma’s Academic Standards. National publishers write for Common Core states
So what is the answer?
Investors, i.e. taxpayers, must hold education leadership accountable for their investment dollars. Ask questions. Show up at board meetings, and if a school’s vendors aren’t getting the job done, replace them. Statistically, more than 80% of children can pass standardized tests — if they are taught what will be measured. That should be happening at every school in Oklahoma.
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