By SEAN ROWLEY
State “letter grade” assessments that have drawn fire from administrators and educators across the state were a focal point during Monday’s monthly meeting of the Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education.
The letter grades from the Oklahoma Department of Education were based on Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests and End-of-Instruction testing. TPS ranked well in some areas, but in others showed some problems.
“In some areas, we were as high as 90 percent proficient in science and writing at the fifth- and eighth-grade levels,” said Anita Lightcap, special programs coordinator. “Changes in rigor and the cut scores dropped our scores. State averages dropped into the 50s in all areas. Our eighth-grade scores actually remained higher than the state averages.”
Tahlequah High School and Heritage Elementary School each received a B from the state. Tahlequah Middle School got a D, while Greenwood Elementary School received a D-plus. Cherokee elementary was given a C. Sequoyah Elementary, which is a pre-kindergarten facility, did not receive a mark.
Proficiency or pass rates on the OCCT among TPS third-graders were 74 percent for reading and 76 percent for math. The respective OMAAP scores were 56 and 38 percent.
Percentages for fourth grade were 69 in reading and 71 in math. OMAAP percentages were 69 in reading and 81 in math.
Fifth-graders tested in four areas. Proficiency rates were 66 percent in reading, 73 percent in math, 48 percent in science and 46 percent in writing. OMAAP rates were 34 percent for reading, 67 in math and 23 in science. There was no OMAAP assessment of writing for fifth grade.
Proficiency rates on the OCCT among sixth-graders were 69 percent for reading and 79 percent for math. Respective OMAAP scores were 38 and 69 percent.
Percentages for seventh grade were 76 in reading and 60 in math. OMAAP percentages were 62 in reading and 37 in math.
There were four testing areas for eighth-graders, who scored 86 percent in reading, 56 in math, 55 in science and 60 in writing. OMAAP rates were 81 percent for reading, 53 percent in math and 100 percent in science.
End-of-Instruction scores at THS surpassed the state averages in all subjects.
Drop-out rates were also addressed during the meeting. THS Principal Jeff Thorne reported 33 students dropped out during the previous academic year, and said Tahlequah graduated 85 percent of its students by end-of-instruction tests in 2012, and that the final report for 2013 should show all THS students who took the exams passed.
TMS Principal Jaycie Smith discussed Achieving Classroom Excellence remediation plans, explaining that 175 students were eligible for remediation in math and 174 in language arts, which covered grades sixth through eight. Smith said efforts included focus periods in which teachers work with small groups of students, nine-week study skills classes, nine-week reading intervention tutoring classes, “power hour” tutoring sessions at the Boys & Girls Club, and summer school.
During her report, Superintendent Lisa Presley said TPS’ OCCT standings and DOE letter grades would be posted on the district’s website.
She also reported an online poll remains open until Nov. 17 for parents to give their opinions of the elementary school reconfiguration plans.
“People have told us they would like to see us retain neighborhood schools, and the committee is looking at a reconfiguration that will retain that,” Presley said. “The committee will meet again Nov. 19, and we hope to make a final recommendation in December.”
Presley mentioned to the board that the district could lose $80,000-$100,000 of funding at the midterm, based on anticipated availability of state revenues.
The board also unanimously approved the consent docket, which included a renewal of the school resource officer agreement with the city of Tahlequah; supplemental services contracts for lay coaches; out-of-state and overnight trips for TPS students; $500 each in district funds for TMS and THS pom to attend the National Dance Competition in Orlando; and the job description for a high school leadership teacher.
The district was presented a $15,000 check for the healthy schools program after meeting requirements set forth in the tobacco settlement endowment trust.
After executive session, the board was scheduled to approve four resignations, including teachers Edwyna Synar and Kim Steeley, and librarian Lori Owens.
The board was also to approve the hiring of five new support staff.
The next regular meeting of the TPS board is 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 19, in the conference room at the board office, 225 N. Water St.