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Some Say Eliminating Tulsa Middle Schools Would Benefit Students

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Students at Discovery School of Tulsa fill the hallway Tuesday. Students at Discovery School of Tulsa fill the hallway Tuesday.
Cheri Froehling has been teaching since 1987. Cheri Froehling has been teaching since 1987.
Students work during class Tuesday Students work during class Tuesday

Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- One of the plans Tulsa Public Schools is proposing calls for getting rid of middle schools. The district would either go to a 1st through 8th grade system or a seventh through 12 grade system.

TPS cites a number of reasons why moving the grades into one school, instead of forcing kids to change schools several times, helps with the students' education.

News On 6 reporter Dan Bewley found one Tulsa school already doing that, and the teachers and parents there agree.

Cheri Froehling has been teaching since 1987. She's taught in Iowa, Arizona, and now at the Discovery School of Tulsa. The charter school is in its second year and has kindergartners through 8th graders under one roof.

"I love it, I think there's a lot of advantages," Froehling said.

Froehling says the K-8 model is not unusual, adding it's been that way everywhere she's taught.

 "Once you have structures in place and once that K-8 system is in place kids flow through it easier," she said.

One of Tulsa Public Schools' proposals would have 1st through 8th graders in one building. The other would have students from 7th grade until graduation.

Read the proposals.

TPS superintendent, Dr. Keith Ballard, says studies show that each time a student transitions to a new school their grades suffer. Shifting to the 1st through 8th grade system would mean one fewer switch for students.

"I will say that there's a lot of research out there that says that the fewer transitions, the better," Ballard said.

In addition, TPS has research that shows that students in K-8 schools score higher on standardized tests, have higher GPA's, and participate in more extracurricular activities.

"They grow up and they're with their friends," Jodi Sommerfeld, PTO President, said.

Jodi Sommerfeld has four grandchildren at Discovery School. She agrees with the research and says TPS parents shouldn't worry about switching to the 1st through 8th grade model.

"If the school is correctly structured and everything is secure it is a much better environment than sending them to two or three different schools during their lifetime coming through," she said.

Discovery School keeps the older kids separated from the younger kids. Each has a different schedule for lunch and recess and each even has its own set of restrooms.

Related Stories:

3/29/2011 TPS Superintendent: District Spread Too Thin To Be Effective
3/29/2011 Neighbors Raise Concern Over Possible Tulsa Elementary School Closures

3/29/2011 TPS Parent: Community Will Fail If School Closes 
3/29/2011 Tulsa Public Schools Could Close Up To 17 Schools

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