Schools trim NCA relationship

By Brett Jones
Published on November 13, 2008

Mustang school board members voted Monday to whittle down the district’s relationship with a national organization whose mission is to help schools improve.

The board voted unanimously to end its association with the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement for its elementary and middle schools. The association, however, will continue to work with Mustang Mid-High and Mustang High School.

Deputy Superintendent Belinda Rogers said the district has developed systems it believes will effectively help district schools continue to improve, and officials felt it was no longer necessary to spend the money on the association, which has undergone changes over the last two years.

“This was not an easy decision or recommendation to make,” Rogers said.

Since 2000, Mustang School District has implemented the NCA’s Transitions Model — the only district in Oklahoma to embrace that school improvement plan. In 2006, Mustang staff presented the district’s school improvement plan at state and national conferences, which NCA team leader Larry Huff had said won the Transitions model eight school district converts.
Under Transitions, Mustang began an improvement plan that focused on what each student was learning and identified children who needed additional help. The district also worked to improve communication between teachers and school sites to make sure each class is covering the same curriculum, leaving it up to teachers’ creativity to decide how to teach lessons.

“The focus of this school district has been individual student achievement,” former superintendent Karl Springer said. “I’ve got a problem with the state who says only certain school districts are in need of improvement. We believe Mustang Schools are in need of improvement when one student isn’t satisfactory in reading and math.”

But two years ago, Rogers said NCA joined forces with two other organization to form aAdvancED. With years of work already done by the school district to adopt the Transitions methods, she said NCA’s new partnership could make changes in the program that would require the district to retool its programs and impede what has already become a successful path for the district.

“We felt like we really, really have done a lot of the work and had our arrows going in all the same direction,” Rogers said. “We did have latitude with the Transitions model to develop our own system of accountability, and we did that, and we feel like it is successful because in the last five years we have raised our API (Academic Performance Index) score 216 points.”

Oklahoma’s API was created to measure the performance and progress of a school or district based on several factors, primarily state test scores, that contribute to overall educational success. The possible scores range from 0 to 1,500.
Rogers said the NCA accreditation effort will continue at the mid-high and high school levels because it could “potentially affect a student’s ability to get a scholarship if they (schools) weren’t regionally accredited.”

School board President Jeff Johnson said the standards Mustang has set for itself are “much greater, much deeper than what North Central requires now.”

“If we only did North Central, I think we would be reducing what our expectations are instead of increasing them,” Johnson said.

No price tag was given as to how much money the district will save by trimming its relationship with NCA.

In other business, the board approved:

-A bid of $95,950 to Schwarz Paving Company for a parking lot replacement at the Mustang North Middle School;
-Change order No. 1 for construction projects at Mustang Valley and Mustang Trails Elementary Schools. Cost for the change order was $17,825, and;
-Funding for Mustang Middle School teachers’ training in the Focus on Reading program. The cost is estimated at $650 and will be paid out of Title II-A funds

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