Oklahoma Excel


The Oklahoma State Department of Education supports teachers, leaders, and schools in meeting the ambitious teaching and learning outcomes outlined in the Programs of Excellence rubrics by enacting the Oklahoma Excel project.  

 Oklahoma Excel provides *FREE tailored professional learning, coaching, resources, and tools to support schools as they make   advancements in areas outlined in the Programs of Excellence rubrics. 



See what current Oklahoma Excel participants are saying!

"OK Excel offers meaningful professional development and ongoing support with ideas that really work." - Lorie from Atoka

"This is meaningful work that is making my classes more engaging and meeting a huge need in my student population of building critical thinking skills needed to be more successful on the ACT."- Tim from McAlester

"OK Excel has been an incredible, valuable, and meaningful growth opportunity as an educator with tools that are practical and impactful for engaging my students right now!"- Donna from OK Connections Academy

"The Oklahoma Excel Program has an outstanding team from the state department that takes you through the process step by step. Their ideas are simple and easy to use. They’ve taken care of everything. We don’t have to “figure it out” on our own."- Nicole from OVCA

"OK Excel is teaching me how to use strategies in my classroom that are tailored to what I need. It is not cookie cutter advice. The things we have learned are meaningful and personal to me and my classroom."- Ashlan from Calvin

"It is more meaningful than the local PD we have had. :) By that I mean it is offering tools that are quickly usable within the classroom."- Kevin from Perry


2019-2020 Programs of Excellence Rubric Connections

Oklahoma Excel is currently operating Networked Improvement Communities (NICs) in the areas of math, ELA, Science and Social Studies.  Our participants will engage in experiences that correlate to the following Categories/Elements on the various Programs of Excellence rubrics:

Math- Category 3 (A., B., C., E., G., H.)  Category 4 (A., B., C., D., F., I.)  Category 5 (C.)

ELA- Category 1 (C., D.) Category 2 (A., B., D., E.) Category 3 (A., B., D.)  Category 4 (D., E.) Category 5 (A.)

Science- Category 1 (A., B., D.) Category 2 (C.) Category 3 (A., D., E., I.) Category 4 (C.) 

Social Studies- Category 1 (A., D., G.) Category 2 (A., C., D.) Category 3 (A., F.) 


Meet our 2019/2020 ELA and Math Improvement Fellows!

From L to R: Vee Tuttle, Theresa Thompson, Ashlan Anderson, Lara Ross, Lorie Brady, Kelly Richards, Nicole Bryson, Leah Reynolds, Donna Hogan

Absent: Tim Collier, Kevin Bond, Patrick Norvelle



Next year we will be launching another cohort of Networked Improvement Communities (NICs).  Eligible content areas include: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies and Safe & Healthy Schools. The application window for interested districts will open summer 2020.  Be sure to join our mailing list to stay current on all things Oklahoma Excel.  


Frequently Asked Questions

Q.  What is Oklahoma Excel?

A.  Oklahoma Excel is a year or semester-long professional learning opportunity for teachers. Participants will spend time learning about, implementing and refining high leverage instructional strategies.

Q.  Who decides which instructional strategies are used?

A.  Yearly themes and instructional strategies are selected in collaboration between OSDE Focal Area Directors, their advisory committees and the Oklahoma Excel team. All themes and related strategies have a strong evidence base and correlate to at least one category of that focal areas Program of Excellence rubric.

Q.  What Focal Areas will be eligible to participate in the 2019-2020 school year?

A.  ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Safe and Healthy Schools and Fine Arts are eligible. OSDE reserves the right to make a final decision on which Focal Areas will be offered.

Q.  Who is eligible to participate?

A.  Oklahoma Excel is open to all districts and districts who join together to form a consortium. At a minimum, districts/consortia need to assemble a team of at least 3-5 teachers in a content area.

Q.  What are the costs associated with participating?

A.  The costs associated relate largely to travel, as teachers will be required to travel to the Oklahoma City metro area several times a year for professional development.  Costs also include stipends, substitutes, resources, and materials.  

Q.  How will districts pay to participate?  Will they receive money?  Is this a grant?

A.  Oklahoma Excel is not a grant.  Instead, it is a pathway for districts to spend their existing Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A dollars. All districts in the state receive a minimum of $15,000 Title IV, Part A dollars, which could be used (in combination) with other funds to participate. $15,000 is approximately the cost of participation for one Focal Area team of 3-5 teachers. Participating districts will typically not receive any additional funds, however from time to time, professoinal development awards may be offered to offset costs.  

Q.  What days are teachers attending professional development?

A.  Check out our tentative 2019-2020 dates.

Q.  I'm interested, what are my next steps?

A.  If you are an administrator who is interested, begin thinking about what Focal Area(s) are of greatest interest. Identify a short list of possible teachers to serve as Team Members and an Improvement Fellow who works in the identified Focal Area. Complete the brief Intent to Participate document when it is released (Coming Soon!). The designated Improvement Fellow will also need to complete the application when released (Coming Soon!). If you are a teacher who is interested in participating, have a conversation with your administrator.  

Q.  How can I stay informed with updates?  

A.  Our website will be updated often, so check back regularly. Also, consider joining our mailing list to stay up-to-date. Feel free to contact Dawn Irons, Director, with questions at any time (dawn.irons@sde.ok.gov, 522-2407).  Be sure to follow us on Twitter @excel_ok


Meet the Team

Dawn Irons - Project Director

Dawn Irons recently moved into the Oklahoma State Department of Education's Office of Curriculum and Instruction as the Oklahoma Excel Director after serving in the Office of School Support and Improvement as a School Support Specialist. Prior to that, Dawn worked in Oklahoma City Public School's Professional Development Department as an instructional coach coordinator. Before moving to Oklahoma, Dawn spent ten years working as an elementary classroom teacher, peer evaluator and instructional coach in Tampa, Florida. Dawn holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in organizational leadership, instructional design and organizational training. Dawn resides in Oklahoma City with her husband and two dogs. 


Pam Merrill - Social Studies Instructional Specialist

Pam Merrill is a native Oklahoman with a master's degree in history and teaching experience in several Oklahoma City metro school districts, including serving as Edmond's Social Studies Curriculum Specialist, grades K-12.  She is the recipient of the National Council for Geographic Education's Teaching Award and the National Social Studies Supervisor of the Year Award. Pam is active in state organizations, including her role as a past president and webmaster for the Oklahoma Council for Social Studies and as teacher-mentor with the Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education. She has helped to develop or author many instructional resources, such as the State of Oklahoma's Authentic Assessment suite for high school history. In addition, Pam has contributed to social studies curriculum through service on the National Standards for Government and Civics committee, as well as multiple Oklahoma State standards revisions and assessment committees. Pam resides in Edmond with her husband, Stephen.  


Susan Wray- Science Instructional Specialist

Susan Wray is a twenty-six year veteran science teacher who is native to Oklahoma. Prior to working for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Susan taught elementary and middle-level science at Oakdale Public Schools from 1997-2019 and Broken Arrow Public Schools from 1992-1997. While at Oakdale, Susan was instrumental in implementing a STEM program, overseeing science curriculum and developing a spirit squad. Throughout the state, Susan has been a leader in science-- presenting at the Oklahoma Science Teacher Association conference, developing Frameworks for Science, and participating in Oklahoma science assessment development. She has dedicated herself to becoming a life-long educator, learner and leader.  

Lauren Jenks-Jones- Mathematics Instructional Specialist

Lauren joins the State Department of Education after serving as a Manager, Teacher Leadership Development for Teach for America-Oklahoma City, where she intensively supported more than 60 first and second year teachers in 20 school sites across Oklahoma City and Lawton. Prior to that, she taught Early Childhood Education at Oklahoma City Public Schools. In December 2018, Lauren earned her master's degree in educational leadership at the University of Central Oklahoma as part of the Emerging Leaders Scholarship Program, and holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Arkansas.  Lauren and her husband, Cody, reside in Oklahoma City with their two dogs. 


Sam Eiseman- ELA Instructional Specialist

Sam Eiseman most recently was the Founding Literacy Coach and member of the Leadership Team at KIPP OKC South Community Prep, a public charter school in South Oklahoma City.  In this role, Sam wrote the Literacy curriculum, directly supervised all Reading teachers, and provided intervention to students across the school.  Prior to becoming a Literacy Coach, Sam taught Reading and Writing at KIPP Reach College Prep in Northeast Oklahoma City.  He is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, where he majored in Sociology and Anthropology.  When he is not working with teachers and students to build a love of literacy, Sam is an avid San Francisco sports fan and an aspiring home cook.  


    2019/2020 ELA & Math Networked Improvement Community Professional Learning






Oklahoma Excel Site Visit Support and Student Impact





2019 Spring Pilot

In the spring of 2019, Oklahoma Excel established a pilot to serve as a proof-of-concept for further Networked Improvement Communities. During the pilot, Oklahoma Excel partnered with 44 educators across nine districts. In just a few months, Oklahoma Excel provided teachers with at least 30 hours of sustained professional learning and impacted 984 Oklahoma students.  

Read our Oklahoma Excel Spring Pilot Final Report HERE! 


Go Deeper

To learn more about the foundational research that has shaped the vision of this project, explore the database below.

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Last updated on December 6, 2019