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Oklahoma School Turnaround Program garnering success

OKLAHOMA CITY  (Dec. 8, 2014) — As 2014 draws to a close, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) is celebrating the fact that more than half of Oklahoma’s 175 Priority Schools have shown positive growth over the past two years.

In addition to that accomplishment, OSDE’s Office of School Turnaround reports that 51 Priority schools improved their letter grades on the state A-F Report Card this year. 

Schools designated as Priority are in need of the most intensive help in raising student achievement. The Office of School Turnaround partners with Priority Schools to help develop a plan of improvement and to provide resources and other supports.

“This is about the hard work of helping turn around schools,” said Richard Caram, assistant state superintendent of school turnaround. “This is about examining data to drive and change instruction down to singular students and specific sub-groups of students.”

If educators can change a school’s culture, Caram said, they can change children’s lives for the better. He said schools that successfully transform their culture can overcome challenges such as poverty, speaking English as a second language and other issues.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said educators who explore specific data for a struggling student — including daily classroom work, test scores on the school and state level, attendance and the like — can pinpoint why that child is having trouble academically.

“As a result, educators can then help that child reach his or her potential. This leads to the successful completion of school and a child prepared for college or career,” she said. “It’s not too much to say this changes lives of children, their families and their communities.”

Comparison of Priority School Grades: 2013 vs 2014 ChartOSDE’s Office of School Turnaround provides systems to change instruction.

“We work with schools implementing best practices they can work with, and with teachers to see how they can improve in the classroom,” Caram said. “Change is difficult, but we work with leaders in helping them become instructional leaders instead of just being managers. This is a systematic approach. You have to align all systems in a school to work toward the goal of improving student achievement.

“We help them identify how to target their funding to improve instruction in reading and math. Once we tackle those two, the change is unstoppable.”

In addition to improvement among Priority Schools, the Office of School Turnaround also saw gains in Targeted Intervention and Focus Schools.

Targeted Intervention Schools typically receive a D on school report cards. More than 100 such entities showed positive growth from 2012-13 to 2013-14.

Focus Schools are those with low student achievement among English Language Learners, African American students or those on Individualized Education Plans. Many Focus Schools showed improved grades this school year as well, as a result of partnering with the Office of School Turnaround.

See a list of priority schools that improved in 2013-2014:



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Last updated on December 10, 2014