Record Turnaround of Failing Schools

State Superintendent Ryan Walters announced today in a detailed release that 117 out of 191 schools showed enough improvement this year to no longer be designated Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) Sites, a federal designation which closely corresponds to the State Report Card “F List.” In last year’s cohort, only 32 schools achieved this distinction.

“I promised Oklahoma families that we would get our students back to basics and back on track,” said Walters. “I am thrilled to announce today that our efforts are beginning to bear fruit. Within our Department, we have instituted new collaborative partnerships focused solely on assisting schools with programs targeted specifically at increasing student outcomes while helping schools target their available budgets to get the maximum return on investment for our students.

“Each one of these 117 schools has shown remarkable progress and is showing the nation that Oklahoma is leading in reform and improvements in student achievement, and several of our schools have shown tremendous gains in the past year. This is hard evidence that our focus on the academic basics, rather than being sidetracked by political indoctrination, is the best path to student success in our state,” Walters declared.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters

Highlights From Sites That Met Exit Criteria

Tulsa School of Arts & Sciences Middle School (Charter)
Executive Director Jonathan Townsend
Principal Dan Hahn

The school improvement focus for TSAS MS is attendance and teacher development. Through the “TSAS is better when you’re here!” initiative, students are monitoring their own attendance and meeting weekly with an assigned advisory teacher. If a student reports barriers that are keeping them from regular attendance, the school-based social worker steps in to connect students and their families with resources to eliminate the barrier. TSAS MS also battles teacher capacity due to alternative certification, emergency certification, and early career teachers. They have developed a mentoring program and a teacher toolkit. Mentor teachers meet with mentees weekly to observe, model, and guide them. The toolkit is a way to share resources. Tulsa School of Arts & Sciences is making an impact on Academic Growth due to having a focus on attendance. They have raised their score from 35% to 52%.

Ellen Ochoa Elementary
Union Public Schools
Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler
Principal Shana Harris

Ellen Ochoa showed a 19% increase in Academic Growth moving from 21% to 40%. In collaboration with the OSDE Support Specialist, a needs assessment determined that the goals should be raising reading scores and reducing office referrals due to behavior. Small group reading instruction became the focus. If students are successful in the classroom their behavior will improve. A Response to Intervention Leadership team was formed to track the data on all students as well as utilize a school-wide intervention system. The RTI specialist has developed a data spreadsheet that is updated consistently during weekly data meetings. The team makes data-driven decisions based on the progress and success of the students. The data determines what intervention will be introduced next. Ellen Ochoa has taken an all-school approach to reading. Every teacher teaches reading. Students can be found in the library, music, and cafeteria working on reading and vocabulary. As a result of focusing on Reading data, English Language Proficiency Progress and Chronic Absenteeism have also improved.

Jay Middle School
Jay Public Schools
Superintendent Leann Barnwell
Principal Arlis Heneger

Jay Middle School showed a 35% increase in their Overall Academic Growth. They went from 41% to 76% surpassing the state average of 57%. Jay MS staff participated in professional development that focused on Professional Learning Communities and teaching strategies (Max Teaching). In a school with one teacher per subject per grade, it was difficult to meet in a PLC during the day, so Principal Arlis Heneger employed the help of all staff. Everyone in the building is a teacher. This year the librarian is an interventionist who works with targeted students on an individual basis along with her duties as a librarian. The counselor meets students to assess their academic learning needs and goals partnering with content teachers. Teachers view all the students as their own and collaboration is their goal. Having an “all staff” hands-on approach has allowed for a master schedule that provides a common plan time for teacher team PLC and a structured common formative assessment schedule. Teachers can be found looking at student data, determining the gaps that exist in Tier 1 instruction, and planning for Tier 2 and Tier 3. A phonics program has been implemented and a required reading block to help all students who are below basic in reading. The reading class intends to bridge the learning gap. Not one child will be left behind and it is evident that teachers have built relationships with all the students at Jay MS. Principal Arlis Heneger is an effective leader who provides stability, support, and collective ownership with his staff by setting clear expectations. He ensures that professional development is implemented in the classroom and provides the needed resources to make his teachers’ jobs successful. Arlis thinks outside of the box to get his students to school. He has partnered with community leaders to bring a STEM lab that can create motorized race vehicles to his school. Students who attend regularly are also rewarded with a bonus day off at the end of the semester. This has allowed his attendance to grow from 76% to 81%.

Office of School Support works with designated school sites in the creation of a Continuous Improvement Plan that is based on the site’s needs assessment. A budget is created and approved that aligns with the plan.Support Specialists visit sites monthly to support in the implementation and revision of the plan. Support is given in claiming Title 1-1003a funding that is aligned with the approved budget.

In an addendum memo from Theresa Wilson, Program Director, School Support even more detail is provided as follows:

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) removes the designations of Comprehensive Support and Improvement Schools any time during the three-year cycle when (a) A site designated due to preforming in the lowest 5% of Oklahoma schools improves the total score such that student performance is no longer in the bottom 5% of Oklahoma schools. (b) A site designated due to graduation rates below 67% increases the school’s four-year graduation rate to be at or above 67% for high schools if the school was designated for this reason. (c) A site designated for lack of improvement in a chronically low-performing student group improves the performance of the chronically low-performing student groups such that the student group has surpassed similarly situated student groups in schools in the bottom 5%.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has reviewed 2023 Report Card Data and 117 schools have met Exit Criteria. The sites are no longer designated as a Comprehensive Support and Improvement School. OSDE celebrates the school’s improvement and will continue collaboration that supports student growth.

Schools that are no longer designated will be given the following two options. (Option 1) The site may continue working with the school support specialist designated by the Office of School Support (OSS) through the 2024-25 school year. This will include all the current requirements in place for designated sites. The site will complete a Continuous Improvement Plan, receive a monthly site visit from a Support Specialist, and receive continued Title 1 Section 1003a funding. (Option 2) The site may discontinue working with the school support specialist designated by the OSS for the 2024-25 school year. Support, monitoring, and additional funding for the next school year will end.

Beginning the 2024-2025 school year, Oklahoma is taking the opportunity to transform the way some school improvement (1003a through ESSA) funds are awarded to LEAs and honor schools that showed improvement to exit the designation from the previous year starting in the fall of 2022, using SY 2021-2022 data.

Rather than waiting for the next designation cycle, or Cohort 3, to begin Oklahoma is taking an innovative approach to move quickly to celebrate schools that have met exit designation status based on improvement and support schools newly in the bottom 5%.

The OSDE will open a window for a specific grant funding cycle using a “needs-based approach” to award services and funding. Ultimately, the intent is to develop a robust process of matching schools’ needs with rigorous, evidence-based strategies and adequate resources. Additionally, awarded funds will enhance districts and schools’ ability to meet the ESSA (e.g., stakeholder engagement, improvement plan, implementation of evidence-based interventions) in a way that directly benefits students.

The Growing Academic Proficiency (GAP) Grant funds will be opened first to schools and/or districts with schools that are in the bottom 5% in the off-year designation cycle. In other words, schools that would have been identified in the 2022 Cohort II. The second tier of applications will then be opened to schools designated as (1) Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) and Additional Targeted Support and Improvement (ATSI) under ESSA.

Sup. Walters meets with concerned parents statewide.

Summary Analysis: With great wailing and gnashing of teeth, the educational establishment has opposed improvements by Sup. Walters at every step. Aided by Leftist local media (Tulsa World and Oklahoman), the attacks have been relentless and have recently turned to slandering parent groups supportive of improvement. Tulsa Today (est. 1996) has exposed these attacks most recently in the following stories: Attack on Moms Lacks Credibility and Recovering Godly Humanity which exposes education unions’ hate of truth and traditional values. The old saying, “The only difference between Communists and Socialists is that Communist put guns on street corners, but Socialist just indoctrinate your children,” is ending in Oklahoma. There are honorable educators, involved parents, and dedicated traditionalists that together are determined to protect children from indoctrination to evil. This report shows success can be achieved, education in Oklahoma can be improved, and the innocence of children protected.

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