Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

January 28, 2014

Locals think Oklahoma schools are doing better than assessment shows

TAHLEQUAH — Another evaluation of education in the U.S. has been released, and Oklahoma finished behind more than three dozen other states in the rankings. But area education officials aren’t putting a lot of stock into the assessment.

In Education Week’s recent 2014 Quality Counts assessment, Oklahoma was listed at 41st in kindergarten through 12th grade academic achievement.

“I recently saw another ranking where Oklahoma was 10th worst,” said Lisa Presley, superintendent for Tahlequah Public Schools. “Two factors were funding and a low graduation rate.”

Oklahoma ranked higher in some parts of the assessment, but the academic achievement portion received the most attention from education publications around the country.

Some believe little stock should be placed in surveys and assessments by journals or think tanks.

“My children attend school at Briggs and are doing well, considering they are on [individual education programs],” Darla Carloss-Hall wrote to the Daily Press on Facebook. “I know a couple of young ladies that graduated there a couple of years ago, and now go to Tahlequah [and] are doing wonderfully. This testing is crazy. Some kids just don’t do well on tests….”

Though she may disagree with some facets of the Education Week report, Presley believes it does have value.

“It can be informative,” she said. “It can offer perspective. You can see how the rest of the nation values education, and how it is supported elsewhere versus how it is supported in your state. You look at it and you learn from it.”

Presley said funding can mitigate many problems in the education of the state’s children.

“If you have the funding, you can provide the resources,” she said. “We have a grant-funded position and a federally funded position to meet the needs of at-risk students. Our graduation rate is above 80 percent. There are a lot of superheroes in the district who make that happen. Resources help us help the kids.”  

A general correlation in the rankings can be drawn between academic achievement and funding. The five top achievement states all rank in the top 15 in per-pupil expenditure. Just one of the 10 worst states was in the top 15 in spending per student. Oklahoma ranked 44th in per-pupil spending, doling out $9,075 per student against a national average of $11,864.

Claiming that her daughter did more advanced schoolwork in Pennsylvania - which ranked eighth in academic achievement - Katherine Grasshopper said schools need more funding.

“The so-called elected leaders of this state should make our children and their futures more of a focus,” she wrote.

Peggy Willson said she believed TPS is doing good work and that many factors affect academic achievement.

“That doesn’t mean there is not room for improvement,” she wrote. “There are things that the schools and teachers can not control that affect a student’s performance in the classroom. Students will not do well if there is turmoil ... or financial problems at home. Kids who come to school hungry will not do well.”

There was little correlation between achievement and “educational alignment policies” deemed important by Education Week. Half of the top 10 in achievement ranked among the worst in policies such as defining school readiness, assessments and college preparation. Oklahoma ranked ninth in such policies. Louisiana and West Virginia ranked second and third in policy, respectively, but were in the bottom five for achievement.

Poverty gap, high school graduation were factors

To rank Oklahoma in K-12 achievement, Education Week compared achievement levels and gains in math and reading in the fourth and eighth grades. A “poverty gap” was measured with the National School Lunch Program, and scores of those eligible were compared with those not eligible.

Other yardsticks included the percentage of eighth-graders who scored “advanced” in math, high scores on advanced placement tests and the high school graduation rate.

Oklahoma’s test scores and gains were below national averages, except in fourth-grade math gains, where Oklahoma scored plus-9.8 against a national improvement of plus-7.2. The state also ranked low in the math excellence and advanced placement categories. However, the state’s “poverty gap” was deemed narrow, indicating less variance of achievement between students on either side of eligibility for reduced school lunches.

The report listed Oklahoma’s high school graduation rate at 73.9 percent in 2010, which ranked 30th among the states and below the national average of 74.7 percent.

Education Week analyzed six components of the education system: K-12 achievement; standards, assessment and accountability; the teaching profession; school finance; students’ chances for long-term success; and transitions and alignment.

K-12 achievement measured test scores and graduation rates. Standards, assessment and accountability determined whether schools measure student achievement through standardized testing, and rewarded and penalized schools based on performance.

The teaching profession category measured whether schools hold teachers accountable to high standards and provide performance incentives. School finance measured whether a state spends money on students and identifies funding inequality.

Student chances for long-term success were measured through family background and employment opportunities. Transitions and alignment measured measured student transitions between school systems and secondary education or employment.

Ranking below Oklahoma in achievement at 42 to 50, respectively, were Michigan, South Dakota, Alaska, South Carolina, Alabama, West Virginia, New Mexico, Louisiana and Mississippi.

The top 11 states were Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington, with Virginia and Colorado tying for 10th.


Education Week’s report on Oklahoma is available at: www.edweek.org/media/ew/qc/2014/shr/16shr.ok.h33.pdf.


Text Only
Local News
  • rf-poker-run-main.jpg Poker run

    Fundraiser was in the cards for local philanthropic group

    It was perfect weather, with temperatures in the high 80s Saturday, as boaters filled their vessels with friends for a fun afternoon on Lake Tenkiller. A crowd gathered at Cookson Bend Marina, and folks lined up to support a local charity event.
    As fundraisers go, the Beta Sigma Phi Mu Omega Poker Run last Saturday could be considered huge success, as nearly $9,000 was collected.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • bilbrey-anthony.jpg Man arrested for blackmailing woman for sex

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies put a man behind bars Monday night after he allegedly tried to blackmail a woman by threatening to post nude photos of her on the Internet if she did not meet him for sex.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Peach_photo_2.jpg Peach crop lean, but fruit still available

    Summer is all about peaches in Porter – especially at Livesay Orchard.
    The Livesay Orchard is still busy a week after Porter’s annual peach festival. The orchard’s crop this year was cut in half from what had previously been expected, according to Kent Livesay, one of the owners of the orchard.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • jackson-jaymee.jpg Tot’s injuries prompt abuse charges for two local residents

    A Tahlequah couple was formally charged Tuesday with child neglect and child abuse after an 18-month-old girl was found with a number of injuries.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • proctor-micah.jpg Pair accused of threatening man

    Two men behind bars at the Cherokee County Detention Center are accused of wielding a knife and gun and assaulting a man at a trailer park on West Keetoowah Sunday afternoon.
    Tahlequah Officer Reed Felts spoke with Reinaldo Flores, who told officers he heard a knock on his door and went to answer it.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Reach Higher an innovative approach to college

    The “Reach Higher” degree completion program is helping many Oklahoma students go back to school without drastically changing their lives.
    “This program is designed for working adults,” said Tim McElroy, program coordinator at the NSU- Muskogee campus.

    July 30, 2014

  • City attorney, others questioned chamber use of tourism tax

    Letters written in 2006 by City Attorney Park Medearis to former city councilor and Tahlequah Area Tourism Council board member Jack Spears suggest money from a hotel-motel tax could be disbursed through an agent other than the Chamber of Commerce, without voter approval.

    July 30, 2014

  • Hulbert council discusses Internet service

    During a meeting Tuesday night, members of the Hulbert Town Council discussed the possibility of Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s extending its cable and Internet service.

    July 30, 2014

  • ts-marching-MAIN.jpg Marching in step

    Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band kicks off 2014 season with summer drills.

    The Tahlequah High School Orange Express Marching Band has added 30-35 freshmen to its roster this year, and drills began for the newest members last Thursday.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • studie-roberta.jpg Woman accused of stealing cash, taking it to casino

    A 35-year-old Tahlequah woman is free on bond after she allegedly took $1,200 from a man who had been jailed for old warrants.
    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies said they spoke with Jason Jones last week after Jones was arrested by park rangers for the outstanding warrants. Jones said he came to Oklahoma to see family, and when he was arrested, he left his wallet and cash with one of his daughters.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA