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Update on meeting between Chief Learning Officer Dr. Ebony Johnson and Oklahoma State Department of Education on October 11, 2023

On Wednesday, October 11, Tulsa Public Schools’ Interim Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson met with representatives of the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The meeting occurred at the request of Chief Academic Officer Todd P. Loftin and was held at the Oklahoma State Department of Education in Oklahoma City.

Attending from the Oklahoma State Department of Education were:

  • Todd Loftin – Chief Academic Officer 

  • Dr. Jenna Thomas – Chief of Staff 

  • Mendy Hooks – Division Administrator, Teacher and Learning 

  • Dr. Thomas Kirk – Division Administrator, Federal Programs 

  • Dr. David Chissoe – Division Administrator, School and District Support 

  • Melissa Ahlgrim – Program Director, Literacy Policy and Programs 

  • Theresa Wilson – Program Director, School Support 

Attending from Tulsa Public Schools were:

  • Dr. Ebony Johnson –  Interim Superintendent 

  • Erin Armstrong – Interim Chief Learning Officer

  • Dr. Estella Bitson – Elementary Instructional Superintendent

  • Dr. Kathy Dodd – Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer

  • Kelly Kane – Executive Director of Early Childhood Education

  • Emilee Taylor – Director of Secondary Schools Academic Operations

During the approximately one-hour meeting and in follow-up communications, OSDE representatives, Interim Superintendent Johnson, and Tulsa Public Schools staff discussed the following topics:

  1. Schools on the “F” list and the need to improve reading proficiency rates at the lowest performing schools

  2. Various strategies to support acceleration of student literacy learning and current implementation of reading instruction in TPS schools 

  3. The district’s professional development plan for the science of reading

  4. The expectations of the OSDE team for Interim Superintendent Johnson’s upcoming presentation to the State Board of Education, including specific requests to address the following items:

  • In general, we need the plan you’ve submitted to the board to be revised and include specific goals, including subgroups.   

  • Provide a breakdown of your data that is understandable to the general public.  

  • Provide a fuller description of previous TPS initiatives that are relevant, where TPS currently is with your improvement strategies, and what specific changes have been made to correct for better student outcomes.  

  • Regarding the science of reading, provide a detailed description of what training has been provided in the past (including the format).  

  • Provide a description of how TPS will monitor the implementation of your improvement plan.  

  • During the meeting, you named multiple programs being used. Can you explain how they are aligned in a systemic way?  

  • Provide a description of supports in reading provided at the secondary level. 

  • For your walkthroughs, what criteria are used to determine which tiers teachers fall into? What specific ongoing supports are provided to teachers in each tier?   

  • Provide information on student transfers (within and outside TPS). 

Follow-up communications emphasized the above and detailed the items outlined in item #4 above as priority for Tulsa Public Schools to address in the district’s public presentation on October 26 before the Oklahoma State Board of Education.