Test Scores Better

Tulsa, OK – Tulsa Public Schools has demonstrated significant improvement in Academic Performance Index (API) scores and other performance indicators during the 2010-11 school year according to preliminary reports issued by the State Department of Education today. The final report is expected to be issued on Aug. 25.

Initial findings show the district's schools are having a measurable impact on student achievement. Highlights include:
Sixteen of the 24 TPS schools on last year's list of schools in need of improvement increased their total API scores this year. Their total API scores grew an average of 154 points, or 28 percent. (For elementary and middle schools, total API calculations are based on math, reading and attendance rate; for high schools, the score is based on math, reading, graduation rate and ACT scores).
Seven of the 24 TPS schools on the list of schools in need of improvement made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and are eligible to come off the list next year if the trend continues: Academy Central, Walt Whitman, and McClure elementary schools; Clinton Middle School; and Central, Hale and Rogers high schools.
A total of 45 TPS schools achieved AYP this year, compared with 29 last year; this includes nine additional elementary schools, three middle schools and four high schools.
Nearly 56 percent of TPS schools improved their total API scores.
Elementary schools improved the percentage of students scoring "satisfactory or above" in both math and reading. Thirty-one schools improved their 5th-grade reading scores and 27 schools improved their 5th-grade math scores. Twenty-three schools improved their 4th -grade reading, and 26 schools demonstrated improvement in 4th-grade math. Third-grade reading scores improved in 20 schools, and 17 improved their 3rd-grade math scores.
The district's Algebra I scores increased significantly, from 49 percent to 68 percent, a 19-point gain.
At the middle-school and high-school level, 19 of 26 schools experienced an increase in total API scores -- an average increase of nearly 130 points.

"I am excited about these greatly improved scores as they are early signs that the seeds we have planted are taking root," said Dr. Keith Ballard, superintendent of TPS. "I commend our teachers for narrowing the achievement gap. It is truly a testament to the hard work of our teachers and principals who rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work that needed to be done. We took action early to get the right leadership in schools that needed the most help. With a tight focus on college and career readiness, Teacher Leader Effectiveness and the positive momentum of Project Schoolhouse, we are poised to make greater gains this school year and lasting change in student achievement at TPS. Add next year's Teach For America Summer Institute into the mix and the good news only gets better. TPS continues to gain traction in spite of reduced spending on education in Oklahoma."

Other highlights of the report include:
Rogers and Central high schools each made AYP. Central increased the percentage of students scoring "satisfactory and above" in Algebra I from 41 percent to 67 percent, and in English II from 59 percent to 66 percent. Rogers increased the percentage of students with "satisfactory and above" scores in Algebra I from 58 percent to 62 percent, and in English II from 35 percent to 57 percent. "Despite Rogers being reconfigured as an Early College High School for the 2011-12 school year as a result of Project Schoolhouse, it will remain on the list," said Dr. Ballard, "but we have high hopes that it will roll off the list next year."
Memorial High School made the most growth in API scores in all subgroups and areas, with 71 percent of the students scoring "satisfactory or above" in Algebra I and 79 percent in English II. East Central, Edison, Webster, Tulsa MET and TRAICE improved the percentage of students scoring "satisfactory or above" in both Algebra I and English II.
Reading scores in middle schools improved at Byrd, Clinton, Gilcrease and Nimitz in all three grade levels, with math scores increasing in all three grade levels at Clinton, Gilcrease, Hamilton and Nimitz.
The district's 6th- and 8th-grade reading scores improved from two to five percentage points, with 50 percent of the 6th-grade students achieving "satisfactory or above," 57 percent of 7th graders scored "satisfactory or above" in reading and 61 percent of the 8th-grade students scored "satisfactory or above."
District 6th- and 7th-grade math scores improved five and three percentage points, respectively, with 51 percent of 6th graders scoring "satisfactory or above," and 52 percent of 7th graders scoring "satisfactory or above."
Elementary schools Academy Central, Houston, Jones, McClure, Peary, Sandburg and Whitman increased the percentage of students scoring "satisfactory and above" in math in all three grade levels. Reading scores improved at Academy Central, Barnard, Bryant, Disney, Houston and Sandburg in all three grade levels.

*Thirty-five schools have tentatively been identified to be on the state's list of schools in need of improvement for the 2011-12 school year. After closures and restructuring due to Project Schoolhouse, 22 schools on the list remain open, including:
Elementary schools: Academy Central, Anderson, Celia Clinton, Emerson, Hawthorne, Kendall-Whittier, Kerr, Key, Lindbergh, MacArthur, McClure, McKinley, Sequoyah and Whitman;
Middle schools: Clinton and Franklin; and
High schools: Central, East Central, Hale, MET Lombard, Rogers and Webster.

*Note: Seven of these schools made AYP this year, but remain on the list because they need one additional year of similar performance to drop off the list; schools are required to meet minimum standards for two consecutive years in under-performing subject areas as determined by the State of Oklahoma and approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

"Many of the new additions to the list are due to the state's significantly higher performance standards in 2010 pursuant to No Child Left Behind," said Dr. Ballard. "We embrace the more rigorous standards and are making great progress toward the goal of making students more college and career ready. We will continue to step up our efforts to realize this goal. Where we are not making progress, we will develop a plan and make corrections along the way. We will continue to make dramatic improvements at TPS."

The district will issue letters this Friday to parents of students in the affected schools that are on the list of schools in need of improvement. "This notification, required by No Child Left Behind, gives parents the option to transfer their student to another school that is not currently on the needs improvement' list," said Larry Smith, assistant superintendent for school and district accountability. "Parents will have until August 26, 2011, to notify us of their desire to make a change."

Dr. Ballard said there will be many opportunities going forward to make mid-course corrections as further data comes in. "We're seeing evidence that the changes we have implemented are having a positive effect. Our plan is to apply what's working in the improving schools to our newly reconfigured schools that are a result of Project Schoolhouse. In the end, however, it will always come down to having an effective teacher in every classroom, and an effective leader in every building."

Oklahoma schools have two weeks to appeal the report's findings. A final certified report is expected to be issued on August 25 by the State Department of Education.