Number of Oklahoma schools on improvement list doubles

Friday, September 17th 2004, 6:11 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ More than twice as many Oklahoma schools made a federal ``needs improvement list'' this year than last year, state education officials say.

The 107 schools, which make the list if they fail to make gains on state-mandated test scores for two consecutive years, were announced Thursday during the state Board of Education's month'y meeting.

Thirty-one of the schools are in the Tulsa Public Schools District, the state's largest, and 20 are in the Oklahoma City Public Schools District, officials learned.

The elementaries, middle schools or entire dependent school districts making the list for several years face penalties, which could include staff changes and allowing children to transfer to other campuses.

The federal No Child Left Behind law requires schools receiving federal Title I money to show progress on state-mandated tests annually.

Forty-six schools made the list in 2003.

Twenty of those sites made adequate yearly progress on tests this spring and could be removed from the list if they show progress again in spring 2005.

Three of the 46 schools showed progress for two consecutive years and were removed from the list, including Boynton Elementary in Muskogee County.

Boynton hired a consulting firm to meet weekly with teachers and help with curriculum, Superintendent Steve Henson said. Students were tested monthly and teachers worked with low-performing students individually.

``It was the students and teachers that done all the work,'' Henson said. ``Hopefully, we can stay off that list in years to come.''

Federal officials haven't decided on any penalties for schools that remain on the list for six years or more, because no states have hit that mark.

Graham Elementary in Okfuskee County made the list for a fifth year.

Superintendent Dusty Chancey said high student mobility is a large problem in his district, with the school population decreasing from about 200 five years ago to 130 students now, Chancey said.

After-school tutoring is offered for two days a week and practice tests are conducted throughout the year.

Chancey is concerned the school could be closed because of decreasing enrollment.

Penalties schools face for making the list will be discussed at next month's board meeting, state Superintendent Sandy Garrett said.

``Obviously, I'm concerned. However, when I do look at other states, I do see many more schools,'' Garrett said.

In Florida, the number of schools appearing on the improvement list went from 45 in 2003 to 964 this year, according to the trade publication Education Week.

In neigboring states, the number of schools on the list declined from 30 to 15 in Kansas, while preliminary report showed it increasing in Arkansas from 273 to 328.