The Oklahoma City School District is the largest school district in the state, with more than 40,000 students in 78 schools.
Like most urban school systems, the district serves almost entirely low-income students and struggles with student achievement and test scores.
However, many consider this year a turning point for the district, which has posted growing enrollment and is implementing a number of reform strategies.
The district went through nine superintendents in 10 years, but has found steady leadership — according to a review by the independent Foundation of Oklahoma City Public Schools — in Superintendent Karl Springer. Springer signed a three-year contract this summer.
Once rife with financial issues, the district weathered the economic decline using a substantial reserve fund and about 130 layoffs to balance the budget.
"All children will be college-ready and work-ready when they graduate," Springer said, explaining the district's ultimate goal. "We want our students on grade level by the end of third grade and we want a safe environment for our students."
At the elementary school level, Springer said, the district is training teachers and principals in Great Expectations, an Oklahoma-based teacher training program that emphasizes proper student behavior and teacher mindsets.