Local & Regional
11:38 am
Mon April 18, 2011

Project School House Update

Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Public Schools today released the results of a survey of 2,560 parents of the district's more than 41,000 TPS students, a response rate of about 6.2 percent. In the survey that was sent home with every student and also made available online, parents were asked about their willingness to have their child change schools if it meant gaining greater access to more robust programs, in addition to other questions. Project Schoolhouse is an initiative designed to determine the best possible use of existing financial and physical resources to provide a quality learning experience for every student.

Among the survey findings:
Most parents said they are willing to have their child change to a different school if it meant greater access to the following: college preparatory programs (83 percent in favor); greater access to tutoring (77 percent); the availability of art, band, orchestra and physical education (75 percent); more elective options (79 percent); a chance to earn an associate's degree at the high school level (71 percent); more after-school activities (71 percent); more foreign language options (67 percent); "community schools" (64 percent); and more Career Tech options (64 percent).
Forty-one percent of parents rated the accessibility and equity of current TPS programs to all children in the district as "not equitable," with only 14 percent rating them as "equitable."
Sixty-three percent of parents said they would be willing to send their child to a larger school and 70 percent said they would be willing to drive a greater distance if there was greater access to educational opportunities.
The three most important changes parents recommended to improve education at their current school are: 1) improve the quality of education (78 percent); 2) more elective class options and an expanded curriculum (67 percent); and 3) improved safety (63 percent). However, 62 percent of parents said they were "happy" with their child's current school.
Seventy-seven percent of parents said access to pre-kindergarten and early childhood development programs is important.
There was some support among parents for a language immersion school, with 39 percent willing for their child to make a change. Thirty-eight percent said they would be in favor of an international-focused magnet school.
Seventy-two percent of parents said they would be supportive of a Continuous Learning Calendar (or Year-Round School) concept with extended learning options during the break. (There would be the same number of school days during the year - 175 days - with more frequent, shorter breaks). When teachers and principals were asked the same question in a separate survey, only 55.6 percent said they would be supportive of a Continuous Learning Calendar.
Parents gave mixed reviews on making optional Saturday morning programming available, with 34 percent saying they are "not willing," but 28 percent were supportive of the idea.

Questions were also asked related to student transfers, with about 1,400 parents identifying their child as a transfer student. Among the transfer findings:

The most common reasons for transfer were: 1) better opportunities at the transfer school
(71 percent); 2) dissatisfied with quality of education at neighborhood school (68 percent); and 3) unsafe environment at neighborhood school (55 percent).
When asked what change would need to take place at their child's neighborhood school to make it a place they would like to go, the most common answers were: 1) improve the quality of education (80 percent); 2) improve safety at the school (63 percent); and 3) more elective class options (56 percent).
Most transfer students live five to 10 miles away from school (about 42 percent), with about
27 percent living more than 10 miles away. Commute times varied, with 34 percent saying it took them from 16 to 30 minutes to travel from home to school.

"We are pleased with the response we got from parents who are clearly engaged in their student's education," said Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard. "The information gathered from this comprehensive survey will aid us greatly as we move toward making a final recommendation to the Board of Education. Similar to what we found out with teachers and principals, parents are willing to make a change if it means better educational opportunities for children. By improving accessibility and equity to educational opportunities across the TPS system, we can make great strides toward improving academic achievement and ensuring our students are college- and career-ready."