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Two-Year Study Paints New Picture Of Tulsa Education System

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There's more data than ever on students and their performance, but this is a first look across school districts in Tulsa to identify common issues. There's more data than ever on students and their performance, but this is a first look across school districts in Tulsa to identify common issues.
Tulsa area schools graduate 87 percent of all students, but most don't go much further, 18 months later only 42 percent were enrolled in college. Tulsa area schools graduate 87 percent of all students, but most don't go much further, 18 months later only 42 percent were enrolled in college.
Impact Tulsa CEO Kathy Taylor. Impact Tulsa CEO Kathy Taylor.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

A new study says Tulsa County students aren't prepared to start school, and, while many graduate, they often don't go to college.

There's more data than ever on students and their performance, but this is a first look across school districts in Tulsa to identify common issues and come up with solutions.

With two years of study, a new picture is emerging of Tulsa's education system, thanks to the collaboration of 16 area school districts and private donors willing to help.

That's what led to the Impact Tulsa report which shows some promise, and problems, in education that haven't been revealed before.

On the upper end, it's staying on track for higher education.

Tulsa area schools graduate 87 percent of all students, but most don't go much further, 18 months later only 42 percent were enrolled in college.

Cost is one issue, but new research found that many students never fill out paperwork that would at least get them two years of tuition at Tulsa Community College.

Impact Tulsa CEO Kathy Taylor said, "We have a great asset here in Tulsa Achieves. If you graduate here, you can get a two-year degree tuition free, but you have to fill out a financial aid form, and only half of our high school graduates do that, so they miss the opportunity for a great education."

With younger students, the issue is reading - what experts say is the best indicator of future success in school.

The problems show up in kindergarten, where only 59 percent of children read as they should; but, the research found 3,000 Tulsa students never enrolled in pre-K, even though it was available.

Taylor said it's clearly critical to get more children into the pre-K classroom.

"And if they did, they'd be ready to read when they got to kindergarten, and we want to get that opportunity out there to every kid in this community," she said.

Another finding was that private donors already give $50 million a year for education in the county.

The groups that do that are building up their support, and the report and the coordination of Impact Tulsa are going to guide some of that spending.

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