Tulsa Public And Oklahoma City Schools Placed On Probation

Thursday, July 23rd 2009, 4:05 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Oklahoma State Board of Education places the state's two largest school districts on probation.  Tulsa Public Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools were both not fully accredited by the state on Thursday.  But, in reality, it doesn't mean that performance at TPS has fallen. 

TPS's new probationary accreditation is not based on new test scores or new student data.  The reality is it is really about a change in state board policy not a change, for better or worse, in the quality of TPS schools.

When students left Tulsa Public Schools last May, their school district was fully accredited by the state.  When they return to class in a few weeks, their district will be on probation.

"This is based on 2007-2008 numbers. And, we are well aware of the numbers and well aware of the deficiencies. And, we have a plan in place to address them," said Tami Marler with Tulsa Public Schools.

The reality is TPS is not on probation for uncertified teachers or any other major violations.  The difference this year is a change in the state board policy.  The board wanted to marry its state accreditation to federal standards.  So this year, districts are also evaluated based on how many schools are considered in needs of improvement based on the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In 2007-2008, TPS had 11 schools on the list.  Nine of those had been on the list for three or more years and that's what put TPS on probation.

"We are making strides in this district every day," said Tami Marler with Tulsa Public Schools.

The true picture of whether TPS is improving or declining will come in a couple of weeks when they receive the new list of schools in need of improvement.

TPS believes the list could be cut in half.

"We want a quality education for every single student in every single school so, our plan is to make sure we have the people and the processes in place to make that happen," said Tami Marler with Tulsa Public Schools.

State education officials told The News On 6 there's no real impact to being on probation.  The district won't lose money or suffer penalties.  The district's accreditation will be reviewed next year, but all schools accreditation are reviewed every year.           

Under this new policy, as long as any school district has even one school that's been on the federal needs improvement list for three years or longer, it will be put on probation.

Oklahoma City Public Schools released the following statement:

The information released today by the Oklahoma State Department of Education represents data from the 2007-2008 school year. Oklahoma City Public School District administrators were well aware of the data and have developed a partnership with America's Choice to address these issues; this new initiative with America's Choice will help implement relevance and rigor in the classroom and increase graduation rates across the district.