Ashli Sims, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The second largest school district in the state is touting improvements, but a closer look at the numbers reveal Tulsa Public Schools made strides in some areas and lost ground in others.
Nearly half of TPS elementary and middle school students who took state tests failed to meet state standards.
These are preliminary results and the district is quick to point out some highlights, like a 20 point gain on Algebra One End-of-Instruction exams.
But more than 40 percent of third graders are not on grade level and roughly half of sixth-graders are failing.
According to a news release from Tulsa Public Schools, 16 of the 24 schools on last year's federal needs improvement list increased their total Academic Performance Index scores this year. Their total API scores grew an average of 154 points, or 28 percent. (For elementary and middle schools, total API calculations are based on math, reading and attendance rate; for high schools, the score is based on math, reading, graduation rate and ACT scores).
The district also reports 7 of the 24 TPS schools on the list of schools in need of improvement made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and are eligible to come off the list next year if the trend continues. Those schools include Academy Central, Walt Whitman, and McClure elementary schools; Clinton Middle School; and Central, Hale and Rogers high schools.
"I am excited about these greatly improved scores as they are early signs that the seeds we have planted are taking root," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent of TPS, in the release.
"I commend our teachers for narrowing the achievement gap. It is truly a testament to the hard work of our teachers and principals who rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work that needed to be done," Ballard added.
Marshall Elementary saw steep declines in some of their scores and the principal wants to know why. Marshall's third grade test scores took a nose dive, dropping 50 points in math and reading.
"I was very surprised to see that large a difference," said Marshall Principal Kayla Robinson.
Robinson says it was a rebuilding year, with larger class sizes and new staff, but she says the transition shouldn't have caused such a steep decline.
"I'm the same principal, this is the same community school, these are the same kids," she said. "It's not adding up to me."
Marshall students are tested throughout the year and Robinson says they performed well on another battery of tests.
"Which is a very rigorous test and that data is not consistent with what we're seeing on the OCCT so that concerns us," she said.
It's more concerning because Robinson doesn't have classroom-specific or student specific-data to pinpoint what happened.
"Anything we can measure, we can change. And to make those changes, data is necessary," she said.
In the push for accountability for schools, Robinson is demanding a little accountability from the testing company.
"To still not have all the information that we need in August is not acceptable and does not help us," she said.
Robinson calls her staff committed and confident and she's determined 2011 will be a blip on the testing radar and not a trend.
"It's not acceptable to them, it's not acceptable to me and we know that and we'll be right back on track again," she said.