'Not Where We Need To Be': Tulsa Superintendent Presents Efforts To Improve Reading Scores To State Education Board

TPS Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson presented the district's latest efforts and progress toward improving reading and math skills. Previously, the Board of Education and Superintendent Ryan Walters had set goals for the district to regain its accreditation status.

Thursday, February 22nd 2024, 4:52 pm

By: David Prock, News On 6


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Tulsa Public Schools gave its monthly update to the state board of education on Thursday in hopes of keeping its current accreditation status.

TPS Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson presented the district's latest efforts and progress toward improving reading and math skills. Previously, the Board of Education and Superintendent Ryan Walters had set goals for the district to regain its accreditation status.

One of the goals is that at least 50% of TPS students must score basic or above on the Oklahoma School Testing Program's (OSTP) English Language Arts assessment or increase the number of students who score basic or above by 5%.

“Based on today’s data, we are not where we need to be. We need to accelerate learning. We need students to learn faster in order to close the gap. We have no excuses,” said Dr. Johnson on Thursday.

In July of 2023, the Oklahoma State Department of Education recommended the board change TPS's status to "accredited with deficiencies," after a complaint from a Memorial High School teacher that the district violated House Bill 1775 during teacher development training.

The board voted to take it a step further and lower the accreditation to the “warning” level. Then in August, the board upgraded the district's status to to Accredited with Deficiencies. The monthly reports on reading and math scores were required as part of a deal for TPS to keep its accreditation status. This will be the sixth update from TPS since the district's status change.

The other concerns that motivated the School Board and Walters to lower TPS's accreditation status had to do with a "misuse of finances," inadequate financial disclosures, and an embezzlement case by a former admin.

Devin Fletcher pleaded guilty in October of 2023 to working with his sister to orchestrate payments for consulting services that never even happened. Investigators said money meant for consulting services was instead wired to bank accounts linked to Fletcher and his family.

Related Story: Former Tulsa Public Schools Admin Changes Plea To Guilty In Wire Fraud Case

Walters, under his TPS Improvement Plan, said he wants to see the district re-orient finances to serve students, increase reading proficiency scores to the state average, and get TPS schools off the F-List.

In December of 2023, Walters said TPS has been given the following goals:

  1. At least 50% of TPS students must score basic or above on the 2024 OSTP ELA assessment or increase the amount of students who score basic or above by 5%.
  2. All teachers and school administrators will be trained in an OSDE-approved Science of Reading model
  3. 12 of the 18 current MRI-designated sites will not be redesignated


Previous Story: Board Of Education Places Tulsa Public Schools On Accreditation With Deficiencies

How Does Accreditation Work?

There are five levels of status after an accreditation.

The levels include:

  1. Accredited With No Deficiencies meaning all standards met
  2. Accredited With Deficiencies meaning standards aren’t met but don’t impact the quality of education.
  3. Accredited With Warning says the deficiency seriously distracts from the quality of education.
  4. Accredited With Probation means the lack of progress and failure to get back on track.
  5. Non-accredited


Related Story: Political Analyst Breaks Down Tulsa Public Schools' Accreditation Battle

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