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Tulsa Public Schools To Take Second Look At 6th Grade Configurations

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Students in a classroom at Jones Elementary School. [file photo] Students in a classroom at Jones Elementary School. [file photo]

Russell Hulstine, NewsOn6.com

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa Public Schools is revisiting its decision over the placement of sixth grade classes in the district.

TPS announced Thursday morning it will put together a task force and seek input on the structure and placement of sixth grade classes.

In a news release, the school district says the issue remains largely unresolved from the Project Schoolhouse initiative.

Based on research and input from the community and school personnel, it was recommended last spring that the ideal school configuration placed sixth-grade students in the elementary schools, and the school board subsequently expanded the grade spans in several elementary schools to include sixth-grade classes.

Right now, 44 of Tulsa Public School's 52 elementary schools have sixth-grade students in their classrooms. Of the 11 junior high/middle schools, four include the sixth grade as part of their grade configuration. In all, about 860 sixth-grade students are currently being served in a middle school or junior high setting.

"There is no doubt that the sixth grade is a critical year in determining a student's future success and academic achievement," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent. "While there is research that suggests that the 7th grade appears to be the ideal time to make the transition to junior high, it is hard to argue with the success that many of our students are having at TPS application schools. At the same time, we think it's important to determine the desired instructional practices and opportunities that we'd like to see for sixth-graders across the district, and build a model for TPS that best delivers high achievers. That's why it's important that we get the opinion of parents, teachers and the Tulsa community. Once we determine our philosophy for the sixth grade, then we can build a model that works best, and that may not be materially different from what we have today."

School officials say there could be a survey of parents, teachers, administrators and others in the district, and possibly some community forums on the subject.

TPS says they have to have a final decision by December 19, 2011.

9/28/2011 Related Story: Parents Say Consolidation Causing Overcrowding At Tulsa Schools

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