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February 9, 2013

State Superintendent visits Norman, talks reforms

NORMAN — State Superintendent Janet Barresi addressed some serious questions and concerns from high school students and community members during a visit to Norman Public Schools Friday.

Barresi’s day-long visit culminated in two afternoon forums — one with a select group of Norman High and Norman North high school students, the second with community members and educators invited by the district — in which the floor was open for questions from those attending.

“I do this every week, sometimes visiting multiple school districts per week, and it is instructive to me to hear the questions, concerns and thoughts of individuals in the areas I visit. I cannot tell you how helpful and instructive it is for me and my staff to go out and hear these people, it puts a face on these things and gives meaning to everything we do.”

The group of 16 students was dominated by juniors and seniors enrolled in Advanced Placement courses, and their concern over expansion of Advanced Placement programs was met with reservation from Barresi.

“(Regarding AP programs) We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Barresi said. “We need to increase the number of minorities involved in AP courses and need to improve the test scores on AP exams. We do need to increase the variety of exams offered in the state, but we’ve expanded the number of seats available for AP teacher training and each year we add three more high schools to the cohort and will continue to until each district offers AP.”

Students also raised concerns about their respective schools’ state report cards in he A-F system, scholarships applicable to out-of-state institutions, online courses, and the legitimacy of requiring courses such as Oklahoma History or Personal Finance, for which Barresi maintained strong support.

“I love interacting with students, it’s a crucial part of my job and speaking with you all gives me great hope for the future of our state,” Baressi said, concluding the student forum.

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