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Kinta School principal says hard work boosted test scores

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KINTA, Okla. (AP) _ Academic test scores in the small Kinta school district improved so much this year that some have suggested an investigation is warranted, but officials here say the dramatic improvement can be explained by nothing more than old fashioned hard work.

Kinta had the highest score on the state's Academic Performance Index released last week. The school district scored 1,404 points out of a possible 1,500. The year before, Kinta scored 403.

Principal Kenneth Whitehead said the explanation is simple.

``The teachers gave 110 percent and the students did too,'' he said.

But the difference in scores for the two years was so great that State Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett has said an investigation is warranted.

After its low score last year, Kinta instituted a special tutoring program for the 185 students attending the small school, which has classes for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

``If we had any spare time, that time was spent tutoring in things like math or reading, instead of coloring or doing other things,'' Whitehead said. ``We even doubled up on some subjects, so students got more math and reading than they would have otherwise.

``The teachers stayed late to provide extra tutoring and some volunteers came in and did tutoring also.''

Superintendent Mitchell Girty said the community pitched in.

``We put a huge effort on,'' he said. ``We knew we had to do better than last year, and the kids knew from day one the pressure was on.

``I think we had every church around praying for us. It was an extraordinary effort.''

Oklahoma schools scored an average of 1,000 on the API.

The ratings are based largely on test scores. Scores on the ACT college entrance exam, attendance rates, dropout rates, graduation rates, college remediation rates and participation and performance in college preparatory courses are factored in.

Oklahoma will use the API system to meet accountability requirements under the new federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Each school and district must show yearly improvement to avoid sanctions that range from allowing students to transfer to reduced funding to eventual forced closure.
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