Staff At Tulsa's Lowest Ranking School Say 'F' Grade Doesn't Add Up

Wednesday, November 6th 2013, 6:04 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The State Board of Education released its grades on every public school in the state Wednesday, and its causing plenty of controversy.

We've got schools right in Green Country that range from "A" all that way to "F." We took a look at the 6A schools in our area and found that Bixby came out the best with an overall "A-."

Most of the districts fell in the "B" and "C" range. Muskogee came in with a "D-," and Tulsa ranked the worst with an overall grade of "F."

While the letter grades range only from A-F, the grade point average, just in Tulsa, ranges from a high just over 100, down to 31.

The lowest ranking schools have a lot in common: high poverty and many children who don't read or speak English very well. For TPS, the challenge is to overcome all that, especially at their lowest ranked school.

At East Central Junior High, the staff is well aware of the "F" on the school report card, but say they won't let it distract from trying to make sure all 690 students are up to grade level.

11/6/2013 Related Story: Board Of Education Releases Grades For Oklahoma Public Schools

Rachel Nicholas teaches math and she believes the report card formula doesn't add up.

"I don't have any faith in it and I feel like we're doing good work every day, strive for improvement every day," Nicholas said.

The greatest challenge at East Central, according to the principal, is the combination of high poverty and low literacy stirred in with all the natural transitions of students in junior high.

"We know we're doing great things--doesn't matter if we're an 'A' or 'F'--continually improve," Principal Josh Regnier said.

Regnier said he's using every tool he can think of to build up reading and math skills, so kids will eventually do better on the state tests that figure so much into the school report card.

The school has plenty of data about the problem, plenty of programs to turn it around; the principal says what they need is time.

"Change doesn't happen fast, it takes time, but I would be very surprised if we don't see significant change in a year or two," Regnier said.

The students who aren't doing well in regular classes get extra tutoring before and after school and on Saturdays. The teachers meet each week to work on strategy, and Nicholas said it's working. But the report card doesn't show it.

"It may not show up on the report card if you take a kid who is four years behind and you bring them up two years, but they're tested on where they are," Nicholas said.

Everyone from the TPS superintendent on down says the grades aren't going to change what they do, they'll use their own analysis to identify problems and solve them.

They do say all the work that's going into that should show up in the grades, but it may take a while.

Look up the grade for your child's school