Tulsa Public Schools today released district grades on the state's A-F School Report Cards, in conjunction with the certification of grades by the Oklahoma State Board of Education. According to district personnel, five schools earned an "A" grade, with four schools earning a "B," seven a "C" and 10 a grade of "D." In addition, 49 schools received a letter grade of "F" -- among them 36 elementary schools, 10 middle schools and 3 high schools.
"In Year 3 of Oklahoma's school grading system, another significant change was made, severely compounding the flaws already inherent in the formula," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent. "For the first time, special education students and English Language Learners were not given a modified version of the test, which makes any comparison with the previous year impossible. It is my hope that the Oklahoma Legislature will fix this flawed system.
"Tulsa Public Schools will continue to move forward on a positive track in our school turnaround efforts. While testing data is important, we are interested in multiple measures that guide teaching in the classroom and addresses specific student needs. That's why we look at Lexile [reading] scores, value-added measures that show student growth, as well as climate and culture surveys, ACT and MAP data. If there is to be a single letter grade, it must be valid. Noted researchers have declared the current formula to be flawed.
"I would caution our teachers and principals against taking these school grades to heart, as they are a badly distorted mirror at best. Many of our district's children come from backgrounds of poverty and there are many that are in special education or English Language Learners. We know that it takes multiple years of highly-effective teaching to overcome the average achievement deficit between low-income students and others. This work takes time. We know from other metrics that we are making progress with our Teacher & Leader Effectiveness initiative, but have a long way to go at some of our more struggling schools. Poverty will never be an excuse at TPS, but we must be very intentional in this work if we are to make a difference in the lives of children. We still believe every child is capable of learning, and no one rises to the occasion like the fine teachers and principals at Tulsa Public Schools."
Tulsa Public Schools is in the midst of a turnaround strategy in many of its schools that includes:
In addition, TPS offers robust programming and an array of experiences for students that include the fine arts and performing arts, vocal and instrumental music, athletics, language immersion and college preparatory programs. In 2013-14, the district launched the Kennedy Center's Any Given Child program, which provides every student in grades K-8 with an arts experience unique to every grade level, in partnership with The Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa, the City of Tulsa and 11 local arts organizations. The district also offers magnet school options with programs that include the fine arts and performing arts, culinary arts, engineering, robotics, broadcast journalism, French and Spanish immersion, dual-language immersion, micro-society, Advanced Placement (AP) programs, the International Baccalaureate program, advanced technology/STEM and early college high school programs with the opportunity to earn college credit.