Board considers reducing test exemptions

The Mustang Board of Education approved the final bids for a new practice field Monday.

The Mustang Board of Education on Monday discussed potentially toughening the school district’s policy on final exams to make it more in keeping with the policies in other area schools.
Superintendent Charles Bradley said officials are still working on the policy and that he could bring it to the board for final approval as early as its April meeting.
Under the current policy, students with good grades and good attendance through a semester can be excused from each of their finals.
The proposed policy would excuse students from no more than two finals per semester.
They would not be excused from finals for the same course both semesters.
Students need the experience of taking “cumulative” exams, ones covering the
material for an entire semester, whether they’re going to college or planning to take certification exams on specialized skills leading to a job, high school Principal Kathy Knowles said.
“We’re really working on raising our academic rigor,” she said.
“Our students need to know what it’s like to take cumulative exams before they get to college.”
Mustang High also is making exams more challenging by adding more questions that test students’ understanding of material – not just their ability to retain information – and including more essay questions, Knowles said.
Mustang’s policy regarding excusing students from finals – based on good grades and attendance – is lax compared to high school in places such as Yukon, Norman and Edmond, Knowles said.
“The change would make us much more in line with everybody else,” she said.
Administrators included students and teachers in the discussion of potential changes to the finals’ policy.
Students advocated to exempt next year’s seniors from the potential change, arguing that they should graduate under the policy with which they started high school, Knowles said.
“I think that’s important, as well,” she said.
During the discussion, board member Jeff Landrith suggested banning practices, performances and games for extracurricular activities during exam week.
That wouldn’t be practical, unless competing schools adopted such a policy, Athletic Director Robert Foreman said.
He recommended against Mustang adopting a “dead week” on its own.
“It would limit a whole lot of opportunities,” he said.
STIPEND APPROVED
The school board also approved a one-time “stipend” of 1.5% for professional development for all employees.
The average stipend will be $475, said Chief Financial Officer Nancy McKay.
The stipend is an incentive for staff to complete training courses on taking disinfecting precautions related to the coronavirus and on energy conservation, spokesman Kirk Wilson said.

BOARD APPROVES $4M PRACTICE FIELD

The Mustang Board of Education on Monday approved the final bids for a $4 million practice field equipped with artificial turf and lights.
Work on the project, which both the band and sports teams will use, was to begin this week and should be completed by the end of December.
The project also will have a director’s stand and an expansion of the fieldhouse that would include storage for the band.
It also will create a retention pond, which will lessen flooding in the nearby neighborhood, which doesn’t have city stormwater sewers, said Heath Tate, of MA+ Architecture.
The practice field will be built on the site of the former school administration building, an outdated structure that was replaced by the Mustang Education Resource Center on South Mustang Road.
The project is funded by a $180 million bond issue approved by voters in 2017.
“It is a much-needed addition for both band and athletics,” Athletic Director Robert Foreman said.
“It will allow us to continue moving our district forward as we strive to be the premiere district in the state.”

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