Tulsa Public Schools students continue to lag far behind underwhelming statewide averages in the third year of Oklahoma’s new standardized testing.
The State Department of Education on Friday released district- and state-level results of the Oklahoma School Testing Program assessments for students from third grade through eighth grade.
Oklahoma implemented more rigorous academic standards in 2016-17 after abandoning the controversial Common Core.
Oklahoma student proficiency rates have declined in almost every grade and subject since the baseline year. Third-grade math scored the state’s highest rate, with 43% of students considered proficient or better.
In an email to school districts, State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister talked about the impact of the ongoing teacher shortage on student success and stressed the need to have a well-trained, prepared teacher in every classroom.
“There are no shortcuts to success,” Hofmeister said. “Moving the needle on state assessments will require long-term investments of time and energy on the part of each of us.”
TPS results showed a decrease in most grade levels for English language arts proficiency, though third grade improved 3 percentage points. Math and science proficiency rates slightly improved or remained steady across most grade levels.
Tulsa students performed much lower than the statewide average, trailing by double digits in every subject and grade.
The district’s highest overall score was eighth-grade science, with 26% of students proficient or better, compared to 40% at the state level.
Eighth-grade math had the lowest score in Tulsa and statewide. Only 11% of TPS students and 23% of Oklahoma students were at least proficient.
Fifteen TPS sites, including 11 elementary schools, had at least one grade level with 0% of students demonstrating proficiency in a subject. Three of those schools — Gilcrease, Penn and McLain Junior High — closed this summer.
Emerson Elementary, which became the state’s first public Montessori school last year, was among four TPS sites with 0% proficiency scores in at least four categories. The Montessori program was not implemented in the grades the state tested last school year.
Despite a decrease across most grades at the district level, 26 TPS schools showed some improvement in English language arts. They include Hamilton Elementary, Webster Middle School and Hoover Elementary.
About half of TPS schools — including Eliot, Grimes and Mark Twain elementaries — saw gains in math. Overall math proficiency for third and fifth grades increased 2 percentage points.
“While we are pleased to see the districtwide improvement in math, we know that we have a long way to go to prepare our students for success in college, careers and life,” Superintendent Deborah Gist said in a news release. “We also know that it will take time for all students to achieve proficiency, which is why we also focus on accelerating student growth using our own set of rigorous measures that teachers can use to assess student learning during the year.”
Gist said TPS is working urgently to support teachers and school leaders in boosting student achievement.
In May, the school board approved the superintendent’s reorganization proposal that she says will create a stronger focus on key instructional priorities and provide schools with dedicated academic services.
Based on the district’s internal performance measures, Gist said she expects to see continued academic growth and plans to share more information about this progress during her State of the District presentation in September.
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