TULSA, Oklahoma - Hundreds of Tulsa Public Schools students are still at risk of being held back in third grade, despite a change in the law that gave students another option for advancement.

The issue is how many TPS students will be in third grade next year. It's going to include a big group that should have been in fourth, but not as many as first thought.

Natalie Hutto monitors Tulsa's third graders who will and won't be moving on to fourth grade. In the district, more than 1,100 students were at risk of being held back, but that number is getting smaller.

"Everyone stays in third grade and they do fourth grade math and science because they can qualify for a mid-year promotion. So if they've brought their reading up by November 1st, they move up, if not they stay in third grade," Hutto said.

The district has 550 children enrolled in summer school, who get a second chance to pass the test; and a large group of the others has already qualified for advancement.

Of the 1,137 TPS students who failed the reading test, just 723 are still at risk of being held back. 414 qualify for "good cause" exemptions and will go on to fourth grade.

The exemptions include:

 

  • Children with a portfolio of grade level work.
  • Special ed. kids who have already been held back, or who take an alternate test for the disabled.
  • Children who have already been held back twice.
  • Those with less than two years of English instruction.
  • Probationary promotions - those are the ones who qualify under the change in the law.

 

"We've had quite a few take advantage of that already," said Hutto.

The district said most of the decisions won't come until the fall, when it's more clear which students are ready for advancement.

As it stands now, 723 children are still in jeopardy of being held back; 550 are in summer school and will take the test again next week.

Any student can take the test again in late July, and in August.

The summer school students take the test next week and the results will come out at the end of the month. That's going to let the district know a lot about what that final number is going to be.