Okemos School Board focuses on school safety and standardized testing

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The Okemos School board met on Feb. 27 and heard guests speaking on not only the future safety of students at the schools, but the future of their education at Okemos Public Schools. 

Law Enforcement Consultant Margaret Coggins spoke to the board about the creation of a plan called a behavioral threat assessment.

A behavioral threat assessment (BTA) is a systematic process and methodology to identify threats and risk, assess the seriousness and potential for violence, manage, mitigate and prevent violence and other adverse outcomes.

Coggins has been in contact with OPS since the summer of 2022, but with recent events that have occurred at Okemos High School specifically regarding the shooting hoax, this plan is more important than ever. 

“She really fits in as a beautiful piece to our safety programming,” Superintendent John Hood said. 

Coggins said that some of the main questions that she wants to get answered for OPS are how to assess where the school is currently at in regards to the behavioral threat assessment, and from there how to develop a safe school environment. 

“There are pillars or elements that all have to be in place in order for us to feel comfortable that our environment is safe and optimal for learning,” Coggins said. 

Coggins said there are multiple layers of security, vulnerability assessments, access controls, active shooter training, emergency preparedness plans and school culture all involved with the behavioral threat assessment.

“The biggest goal for me is that it is proactive and preventive, not reactive,” Coggins said. 

Coggins said that she wants to prevent risk factors from escalating to a point where they pose a safety concern to a student, to other students, the campus, etc. 

Many board members thanked Coggins forthe work she is putting in to help Okemos Public Schools create a plan to keep the schools safer. 

“It brings me so much reassurance to know that we have people like you to develop safer protocols and procedures for our community,” said board member Katie Cavanaugh. 

There are future meetings that have been put in place to discuss and develop the behavioral threat assessment in more depth for Okemos Public Schools. 

Aside from the creation of the BTA, the board is also focusing on standardized testing for all students PreK-12 and how their tests will show accurate results to help students grow, helping teachers learn new methods and inform parents on their child’s current educational status. 

Assistant Superintendent Stacy Bailey gave a presentation Feb. 27 to the board about the standardized testing results as a mid-winter benchmark update. 

“I’m excited to share with you the new learnings that we’ve had with this new assessment tool,” Bailey said. 

Bailey said that they are operating on a process called the Michigan Integrated Continuous Improvement Process (MICIP). This is a process that is used by OPS to assess the needs of the whole child. 

“We’ve been able to really use this data, if we had students that had higher risk level indicators our teams were able to spring into action, contact parents and work with them,” Bailey said.

“Data is just data, it’s what we make of it and what we do with it,” Bailey said. 

Bailey said the main goal she wants to accomplish is to take the data that the standardized tests provide and make sure it gets to teachers so they can learn how to teach in response to the test results, and get the data to parents so they can help their child learn the best way they can. 

The board plans to have a study session in regards to the testing to learn more about what needs to be done so the OPS students receive the best learning experience possible. 

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