TPS Revises Goals to Align Expectations

The Tulsa Public School (TPS) board unanimously approved revisions to the goals and guardrails established in their 2022-2027 Strategic plan. The rationale was to:

  • align TPS goals with what the Oklahoma State Board of Education (OSBOE) wants to see accomplished
  • focus monitoring energies primarily on academic outcomes
  • continue monitoring equitably providing education for all students including Special Education

Five board members were present: Board President Stacey Woolley, Vice President John Croisant, E’Lena Ashley, Susan Lamkin, and Diamond Marshall. 

The following revisions were part of the consent agenda, the entirety of which passed without discussion. Note: it is unusual for there to be no discussion of any aspect of the consent agenda.

Goal 1 The percentage of grade 3-5 economically disadvantaged students who score Basic or above on Spring OSTP ELA assessment will increase from 37% in May 2023 to 53% by May 2027.

Goal 2 The percentage of grade 6-8 students who score Basic or above on Spring OSTP ELA assessment will increase from 38% in May 2023 to 53% by May 2027.

Goal 3 The percentage of graduates earning post-secondary credits and qualifying credentials will increase from 43% in May 2022 to 54% by May 2027.

The three goals were accompanied by two to three interim goals which further defined each goal.  The interim goals also ensure that the district stays on track from school year to school year. TPS staff will report progress on these interim goals to the board at various intervals.

The board removed the following three of the five 2022 guardrails to better focus on excellence in basic education i.e., reading and mathematics.

  • Guardrail one: addressing effective implementation of social emotional learning strategies
  • Guardrail three: addressing greater enrollment in secondary school special offerings such as advanced placement and international baccalaureate classes
  • Guardrail five: addressing financial literacy and career planning

Still in effect are:

  • Guardrail two focusing on equitable conditions, practices and procedures
  • Guardrail four focusing on services for students with disabilities

The goal revisions were originally discussed with representatives from the Council of Great City Schools in a special board meeting on 12/18/23. That meeting did not have a quorum. The several members present (Woolley, Croisant, Lamkin) simply had conversations about the revisions proposed by TPS Superintendent Dr. Johnson.

Anyone who watched the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting on 12/21/23 (or read the article covering that meeting published in this paper) was anticipating goal changes since a preliminary version of Goal 1 covering grades 3 to 5 was presented to the OSBOE. 

The consent agenda had other items including a potentially $200,000 contract (2023-2024) with four renewal options with Crosswalk Education. That organization will provide intensive literacy-focused teacher coaching in the classrooms of selected CSI (comprehensive support and improvement) schools.

It will be interesting to observe how the school board follows up on the usefulness of this coaching. Surely the teachers who received the coaching will have some valuable input. It is likely that direct in-the-classroom coaching works for some teachers and not for others. The results of the follow up should dictate whether or not the Crosswalk Education contract should be renewed.

It is equally important for the board to examine data on the results of other initiatives designed to improve the reading skills of students through teacher training. This includes the intensive Science of Reading training recommended by the OSBOE and implemented by TPS.

This board meeting included two action agenda items. The first was to declare an emergency to permit immediate repairs to the Rogers High School Gymnasium. The damage was caused by a frozen and burst water line at Rogers High School. Declaring an emergency permits bypassing required competitive bidding. The second was to award the repair contract to Tri-State Floors, Inc.

Speakers from the public are permitted in response to action items and often a significant number of speakers grab the opportunity to speak to the board.  There were no speakers addressing these two items.

Had there been the same opportunity to speak to the board about items on the consent agenda, a number of comments and ideas would likely have been presented.  Maybe several of them would have been of noticeable benefit to TPS.

The regular Superintendent’s Report/Presentation section of the meeting followed. Superintendent Dr. Johnson acknowledged the absence of Board Member Dr. Marshall recovering from surgery and Board President Stacey Woolley’s status as one of the Tulsa Women of the Year for standing up for TPS students.

Dr. Johnson praised the administrative staff for filling all the classroom positions so that the teachers could get their Science of Reading training. She noted that winter break reading tutoring took place and said that one hundred teachers have signed up to participate in up-coming High Dose Tutoring in thirty-one schools.  TPS is hoping for a total of one hundred twenty-four teachers to participate. In close she noted that enrollment for the coming year continues.

The board then went into executive session to receive information about pending litigation against TPS brought by a father. When the board returned to open session, they reported that no votes were taken, they talked about the issue at hand and maintained a quorum. They appear to be carefully addressing key points in the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act.

The next regularly scheduled TPS board meeting is Monday, February 5, 2024, at 6:30 p.m.

Consider being part of those who witness the TPS board meetings whether in person or online. Witnessing reminds the board members, superintendent and TPS staff that their opinions, efforts, and actions are important and are not going unnoticed. There were very few witnesses at this meeting.

About the author: Susan Phillips, a resident of Tulsa Public School District since May 1998, is a retired psychologist. Her husband, Michael Phillips, is a retired Tulsa Public High School math teacher.  Susan and Michael have been attending nearly all TPS board meetings since May 2, 2022. They arrive early, sit on the front row, and talk amiably with others who regularly attend. They seek to understand the various points of view held by audience members. Susan began writing about the meetings in July, 2023.

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