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TPS announces results of technology needs survey

Published 1/17/2013




Tulsa Public Schools


Chris Payne


Tulsa Public Schools today announced the results of a recent survey of more than 1,300 teachers, principals and support staff about classroom technology. While almost 60 percent said classroom technology is "very important" in impacting student achievement, 39.1 percent rated the effectiveness of current classroom technology in the district as below acceptable levels. This has prompted the TPS Board of Education to appoint a 20-member bond development committee to study the feasibility of a technology-focused bond initiative, possibly in May 2013.

Other survey findings include:

  • 27.8 percent said they have classroom technology that is not being utilized. Reasons cited were "broken or missing pieces" (54.7 percent); lack of training (24 percent); and a shortage of supplies (23.7 percent).
  • 30 percent rated the district's current technology training as "ineffective," in spite of the fact that more than 60 percent classify technology training as "very important."
  • 64 percent said there should be a "standard classroom" design, where all teachers across the district by grade level would have access to the same technology and curriculum delivery systems.
  • Current funding is inadequate for consumable items related to classroom technology (i.e., printer toner, bulbs for interactive whiteboards, etc.), with nearly 60 percent of teachers and principals saying materials are "scarce." 64 percent said they often pay out of their own pocket for these items due to budgetary constraints.
  • 58.7 percent said it's important that students have access to "virtual" instruction.
  • The current quality of technical support received an average rating of 2.91 on a 5-point scale, which is slightly below an "acceptable" rating.

"In the 21st century classroom, student achievement is inextricably tied to technology and our children's ability to successfully navigate in a digital world," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent. "I have long suspected that there are growing disparities in the availability of technology resources at TPS when compared with neighboring school districts. Our students will pay a heavy price if we don't do something to catch up. With the right tools, I believe our teachers can leverage classroom technology to improve student performance and substantially improve achievement. That is why the TPS board has acted quickly and responsibly to appoint a committee to explore the possibility of moving forward with a technology bond initiative."

In 2010, Tulsa voters overwhelmingly approved a $354 million bond package for the school district, with most of the money being spent on facility renovations, repairs and heating and air conditioning. The district has spent approximately half of the $354 million bond that was passed in 2010, with $172 million earmarked for facility, classroom, library and transportation projects. Tulsa Public Schools currently has $89,375,115.71 in additional bonding capacity available.

"Bonds, by their very nature, are restrictive in how they can be spent," said Bob LaBass, director of bond projects and energy management. "School districts are limited to spending dollars only in the categories in which they were voted on and approved. The Technology Bond Development Committee is working to determine whether or not they will recommend to the TPS board that we proceed with a 2013 bond initiative related to technology. There are some dollars from the 2010 bond that could be applied toward technology. We have not yet determined a dollar amount should we choose to proceed with a 2013 bond."

According to LaBass, TPS currently has a sinking fund rate of 23.45 mills, which is used for the retirement of existing bonds. This is lower than all the adjacent districts, even though TPS has a larger bonding capacity given its size (see chart below).

School district Sinking fund levy
TPS $23.45
Owasso $27.06
Broken Arrow $28.62
Union $30.70
Jenks $31.74

Other highlights from the research:

  • Most-requested items as part of a standard classroom are: internet access with each computer (88 percent); a multi-function device (printer/copier/fax/scanner) (79.2 percent); iPad for teacher (60.5 percent); laptop for each student desk or table location (49.8 percent); and e-textbooks (49.1 percent).
  • The minimum number of computers needed in the classroom for grades Pre-K through 2nd grade was 3-5 computers (about 31 percent); and "one for every student" in grades 3-12 (28 percent).
  • About 88 percent said on-site, full-time technical support is needed.
  • Response time of technical support received an average 2.60 rating on a 5-point scale (less than acceptable).
  • Participants were not pleased with the frequency of computer/technology maintenance, with an average rating of 2.23 (less than acceptable).
  • 84 percent rated Wi-Fi access as important, (an average rating of 4.42).
  • Among the most "necessary" items needed in the classroom for students are:
    • Interactive whiteboards (91.5 percent);
    • Computer labs (89.1 percent);
    • Internet access/upgrade (87.4 percent);
    • Standardized software like Windows Office Suite (86.3 percent);
    • Improved electrical/infrastructure (81.9 percent);
    • Wi-Fi (81 percent);
    • Audio readers (76.5 percent);
    • Desktop computers (74.9 percent); and
    • Access to virtual instruction (73.6 percent).
  • The following items were ranked as having the greatest potential impact on student achievement (in order of importance):
  1. Smartboards
  2. Internet access/classroom wireless
  3. New or upgraded computers
  4. Laptops for students
  5. Software upgrade
  6. eReaders for students
  7. Multi-function devices (printer/copier/scanner/fax)
  • Among the most "necessary" items needed in the classroom for teachers are:
    • Improved tools for tracking (94.5 percent);
    • Standardized software like Windows Office Suite (93 percent);
    • Interactive whiteboards (92 percent);
    • Internet access (88.4 percent);
    • New desktop computers/upgrade (86 percent);
    • Wi-Fi (85 percent);
    • Multi-function devices (84.3 percent);
    • Computer lab (82.4 percent); and
    • Enhanced training/professional development (80 percent).
  • Technical skills and expectations in the district are ill-defined across all categories, particularly for students (69.5 percent); teachers (66.7 percent) and support staff (56.6 percent).
  • Respondents gave themselves a 3.32 average rating (on a 5-point scale) for their effectiveness at incorporating technology into instructional strategies, in spite of training they believe is lacking.
  • Almost half of the respondents said it's important that TPS require standardized textbooks across all grades/subject areas.
  • Asked to rate their current textbooks based on the following criteria ...
    • Grade/age appropriate -- 38.2 percent said "acceptable."
    • Physical condition -- 34.9 percent said "acceptable" and about 20 percent said "less than acceptable."
    • Availability -- 33.1 percent said "not acceptable" and 28.1 percent said "acceptable."
    • Compatibility with Common Core standards -- 41.2 percent said "not acceptable" and 25.5 percent said "acceptable."
  • 58.7 percent said it would be important to have traditional printed textbooks made available even if textbooks were offered in an electronic or online format.
  • 77.2 percent said it's important that TPS have standard assessment tools and instructional learning systems across the district.

The survey was conducted from Dec. 7-14, 2012, with 1,357 teachers, principals, other certified and support staff participating. Nearly 80 percent of the participants were teachers in both primary and secondary schools; more than 10 percent were "other certified staff"; eight percent were support staff; and nearly 2 percent principals.

Members of the 2013 TPS Technology Bond Development Committee are: Rachel Maze and Rodger Randle (co-chairs); Bob Howard; Richard Ryan; Dennis Neill; Stacy Loeffler; Stephan Sargent; Lynn Stockley; Eddie Evans; Ben Stout; Chris Hudgins; Susan Harris, Joe Jennings; Trish Williams; Charlotte Manning; Blaine Young; O.C. Walker; James Stuart; Peggy Spillman; Bob LaBass; Ellen Duecker and Randy Blattner.

A final recommendation by the bond development committee is expected sometime in February.

A complete copy of the survey results may be found on the TPS website at

A copy of the executive summary is available at





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