TPS Pushes To Connect Students Amid Distance Learning Challenges

Monday, September 28th 2020, 9:11 pm
By: Amy Avery

TULSA, Okla. -

The Tulsa Public Schools district leaders said they are making a big push to get students to connect for virtual learning.

The Board of Education held a special meeting on Monday to address the school year so far amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, TPS said nearly 95% of students have logged in to complete their assignments. The district said it was a big jump from the 80% it was seeing just two weeks ago.

Tulsa Public Schools Director of Data Strategy, Sean Berkstresser said during the week of September 14, 20% of students were disconnected from online learning. This week, the district has that number down to 5%.

"Our school teams were out visiting local shelters, community centers, community service agencies, they were using emergency contact numbers to find families," Deputy Superintendent Paula Shannon said.

The district said attendance has been difficult to measure with distance learning. They have a data visualization system that shows a blue bar for students that have logged in and orange for completed assignments.

"After the first week, for example, there was a pretty big gap between the orange bar and the blue bar," Berkstresser said. "So students were logging in, but they hadn't completed activities yet."

Elementary students must complete one assignment per half day, and secondary students must complete one assignment per course per day for their attendance to be counted. Some parents tell board members the work load is too much.

"We don't want to see kids working seven days a week in online learning," TPS Board member John Croissant said.

"We know that it's a challenge," Shannon said. "We are juggling how we support teachers in understanding how to take attendance within assignments to reduce burden."

In the next few weeks, the board will discuss whether it's safe to return to in-person classes. Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said this is a decision they won't take lightly.

"Our path forward, we will prioritize science and data," Dr. Gist said. "That doesn't mean we are leaning one way or another, it's much more complex than that."