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With the most failing schools, Tulsa leaders suspect methods

BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: December 2, 2012

The district has undergone drastic changes over the years. Project Schoolhouse closed more than 13 schools throughout the district, and the district is ahead of the curve in rating teachers using a growth model directly linked to student performance.

Every student in Tulsa Public Schools now wears a uniform. The district has replaced ineffective teachers and principals.

But among the newest reforms is an effort to develop an academic achievement zone centered on a number of underperforming schools.

The achievement zone doesn't focus on schools labeled as failing by the letter grades, but rather on the scores the schools earn for compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The schools have been labeled as priority schools, needing greater intervention.

“We wanted to have a response to intervention model,” said Verna Ruffin, assistant superintendent for the academic achievement zone. “We respond to the entire child, whether it's a social, emotional or academic need.”

The zone is just in its beginning stages, but a team of employees with Tulsa Public Schools has already begun working with the schools in the McLain High School feeder pattern.

The feeder pattern's junior high school received an F, and McLain High School for Science and Technology received a C.

The high school received an F based on student performance on standardized tests, but received an A for overall student growth and a B for whole school performance indicators, such as graduation rate and advanced coursework available to students.

Other schools that received Fs were Tulsa MET/Lombard High School, and TRACE Academy and Tulsa MET middle schools. Additionally, Greeley and Mark Twain elementary schools and Hale Junior High School received Fs.