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education

lockers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The State Board of Education released the newest A-through-F school report cards at Thursday’s board meeting.

Overall, grades were down this year. This year’s tally included 196 A’s, 455 B’s, 582 C’s, 319 D’s and 213 F’s. By contrast, in 2015, schools earned 212 A’s, 497 B’s, 536 C’s, 333 D’s and 183 F’s.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said she isn’t sure why there's a dip, and said it would be irresponsible to make a guess, but her department will start digging through the data looking for answers.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma leads the nation in education cuts based on per pupil spending, and those cuts are nearly double those of the next-closest state.

A report out last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows Oklahoma's per-pupil funding fell by nearly 27 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2017.

Lt. Gen. Lee K. Levy II speaks at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s State of Aerospace luncheon Tuesday at the Embassy Suites Oklahoma City Downtown/Medical Center.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Earlier this week the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber held its annual State of Aerospace luncheon to update the business community on both the military and civilian sides of the industry.

Tinker Air Force Base wants to work with small businesses, but The Journal Record’s senior reporter and digital strategist Sarah Terry-Cobo says the federal government’s seven-year budget impasse means defense contractors suffer from a pay delay.

Video Breakdown: State Question 779

Oct 17, 2016

As KGOU and KOSU began crafting ideas for our collaborative election project Oklahoma Engaged, we were interested in several forms of storytelling. This included informative and in-depth radio stories and video profiles of folks in a south Oklahoma City district.

Bob Nance and Gary Watts, attorneys for eight Oklahoma school districts that successfully sued to have the Oklahoma Tax Commission change how it calculates motor vehicle tax disbursement.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

A group of school districts won a case Friday against the Oklahoma Tax Commission, and it could change how millions of dollars are distributed.

Oklahoma schools get a chunk of every vehicle registration and excise tax paid to the state. Last year, lawmakers changed the formula and the Oklahoma Tax Commission had to interpret how to divide those motor vehicle taxes.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The state question that proposes raising Oklahoma’s sales tax one percent to pay for $5,000 raises for teachers could cause issues for city governments that also rely on sales taxes to pay for streets, fire stations, and other municipal projects.

Two University of Oklahoma economists – Cynthia Rogers and Gregory Burge – looked to past sales tax increases to see how municipalities were affected. They analyzed the impact of four previous Oklahoma state sales tax increases (in 1984, 1984, 1987 and 1990) on the timing of municipal sales tax rate changes.

Teachers in training at Payne Education Center at 10404 Vineyard Blvd. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Oklahoma lawmakers are in the middle of a policy fight about how to combat dyslexia.

Despite intervention from the state Capitol, teachers and administrators can’t decide how to bring dyslexia education into the classroom, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

The Oklahoma City Public Schools administration building.
Oklahoma Watch

Data presented at Oklahoma City Public Schools' Monday board meeting show many of the district’s academic goals for the year were not met. 

The goals were set last year during the Great Conversation, which was a series of community meetings where parents and school staff produced goals for the district. They also agreed on specific skills they wanted each child to leave school with.

ABLE Charter School’s administrative offices are located in an office building on North Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Watch

For the first time in its four-year history, the state board that oversees virtual charter schools has decided to shut down one of the schools, citing a pattern of violations.

The Statewide Virtual Charter Board voted Thursday to end its contract with ABLE Charter School, the newest and smallest of the state’s five virtual schools.

The school, which has an enrollment of 61 students across the state, had come under fire for being out of compliance with several state laws and rules. ABLE’s superintendent said the school will appeal the decision.

Matt Whittington, of Edmond, enrolled in Epic Charter Schools because the flexibility of online classes fit with his commitment to gymnastics. The family made special efforts to ensure that the arrangement worked.
Michael Willmus / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma’s largest online charter school is on a track of explosive growth, nearly tripling its enrollment over three years, to almost 8,500.

That pursuit of lightning growth by Epic Charter Schools – a goal affirmed by its co-founder – shows no signs of letting up. Epic officials predict enrollment will near 10,000 by mid-school year.

The Department of Education released statewide student assessment scores at Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting and the results show an overall upward trend of improvement. But a slight one. 

Overall, Oklahoma students are performing better at reading than they are in math. On average, 70 percent of third through eighth-grade students are proficient in reading, and 65 percent of students are scoring proficient in math.

Stacey Haynes goes over spelling words with her third-grade class in Washington, Okla.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

State Question 779 could bring in millions for schools in the Oklahoma City metro, but the proportional breakdown means the smallest districts would receive just a few thousand dollars.

School buses are parked at the Oklahoma City Public Schools Operations Center in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

For 22 years, the state miscalculated how much property tax should go back to local school districts. That means hundreds of campuses lost money over that time period, while the rest got more than they deserved.

Some Oklahoma school districts are now going after millions of dollars they say were applied the wrong way, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

Randy Harris is superintendent of Wagoner Public Schools.
Provided / Oklahoma Weekly Group

More than 100 school districts in Oklahoma are thinking about implementing a four-day school week, and that’s putting pressure on working parents. It’s also forcing employers to adjust.

In the eastern Oklahoma town of Wagoner, several major employers haven’t complained about absent parents. Daycare centers are also expanding to make room for more children, even though childcare availability in the state has shrunk significantly since 2008.

classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Figures released Tuesday by the Oklahoma State School Boards Association show about $370 million would go toward teacher recruitment and retention if voters approve State Question 779 this fall.

Supporters say the 1 percent sales tax proposal would generate $615 million per year for common and higher education. Part of that money would be used for a $5,000 teacher pay raise.

Gloria Torres, Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education, District 6.
Oklahoma City Public Schools

The president of the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Federation of Teachers is calling on an Oklahoma City Public School Board member to temporarily resign.

During Monday night's OKCPS board meeting, Ed Allen said Gloria Torres should step down over accusations she may have been involved in enrollment fraud at Oklahoma City Community College.

“I think it is appropriate – if any board member is under investigation for criminal conduct – that board member should not participate in any board activity until cleared by the investigation," Allen said.

student in a classroom using a laptop computer
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Black and Hispanic students are much less likely to be identified as “gifted” than their white and Asian counterparts — a disparity found in Oklahoma that mirrors national statistics on gifted and talented education.

In Oklahoma, black students make up 9 percent of all students but 4.5 percent of students in gifted and talented programs. Similarly, Hispanic students comprise 16 percent of all students but 10 percent of students classified as gifted and talented.

Students rally against Oklahoma City Public Schools budget cuts in May 2016.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

A new statewide survey found that at least 2,800 public school jobs have been lost to budget cuts this year.

The survey, conducted by the Oklahoma State School Board Association, showed that 1,500 of those jobs lost were teaching positions and 1,300 were support staff.

The OSSBA conducted the survey during the first two weeks of August. Districts representing about 83 percent of the state’s public school enrollment participated.

Other survey results show:

Study: Tulsa Head Start Program Produces Lasting Positive Effects

Aug 18, 2016
classroom floor
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

An analysis of participants in a Tulsa Head Start program found many indicators that the federal early-education program works — and the positive effects last into middle school.

Overall, participants in the Community Action Project Head Start program had higher math scores, lower rates of grade retention and were less likely to be chronically absent.

The findings are significant because they contrast with other research showing the program’s positive effects fade quickly.

Teachers In Oklahoma Expected To Spend Hundreds On Classroom Supplies

Aug 14, 2016
Tulsa high school history teacher Vince Facione expected to spend at least $300 before the first day of school. He gives each of his 190 students a three-ring binder.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Elementary music teacher Tony Flores’ entire classroom budget for the year will be expended on music for three performances. Last year, he bought new instruments, to the tune of $1,000 out of his own bank account.

In Danielle Childers’ pre-kindergarten classroom, students will have snacks for snack time, mats for naptime and stickers for a job well done, but the cost of those items falls on her.

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