State schools Superintendent Janet Barresi acknowledged and then squashed rumors that Oklahoma's waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act would mean immediate takeover of some underperforming schools.
“I think the term ‘taking over the school' is a rough term. We're looking at it as a very particular type of partnership with that district,” Barresi said. “We are assuming responsibility in a partnership with a district to look at multiple options to help those students perform.”
The state's waiver application outlines a process for the state to hire a private company to manage failing schools that don't show a capacity for improvement.
Already 77 schools identified as the lowest performers have been asked to submit “capacity reviews” that will defend the school district's work to improve the school. The applications are due by Feb. 15.
“It's very important to get an overall view of how each school is performing,” Barresi said. “We thought it was critical that we not just look at raw data having to do with test scores. We didn't think that was fair.”
Sandra Park, the deputy superintendent of the Oklahoma City School District, said the district was concerned about rumors of state takeover.
“We were encouraged today when we heard the word partnership,” Park said.
Several Oklahoma City schools are on the list of focus schools.
Barresi said the state intervention likely would occur with the next school term, the 2012-13 school year.
State Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, asked Barresi on Thursday about the private education management organizations that would take over schools.
“Will they have to hire Oklahoma state certified teachers if they let other teachers go?” Kern asked.
Barresi said yes, Oklahoma certified teachers will be hired and the company would be “talking with administrators in those districts and finding out what's best for those students in those schools.”