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education

Declining ACT Scores Raise College Readiness Concerns

Nov 6, 2019
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma high school graduates’ scores on the ACT college-readiness exam declined in every subject this year, according to a report released Oct. 30.

Students and parents walk toward a Tulsa elementary school entrance.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The latest “Nation’s Report Card" results are out, and Oklahoma continues to lag most other states in reading and math scores and faces a steep climb toward its goal of being in the top 20 states.

Why is there a Putnam City school district in Oklahoma but no Putnam City?

In Oklahoma, A Discredited Theory Of Reading Is Widely Used

Sep 27, 2019
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

In classrooms across Oklahoma and the nation, students are taught to read using a theory that has been discredited by decades of research by brain scientists.

With Kids’ Futures At Risk, Schools Seek New Ways To Lower Chronic Absenteeism

Sep 19, 2019
Jones Elementary teacher Carol Moshiri talks to pre-kindergartener James Williams on his way to class on Sept. 13., 2019. James is holding hands with fifth grader Leola Hopkins and first grader Nola Southern walks in front of them.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma has joined dozens of other states in trying to reduce chronic absenteeism in schools. And some schools are trying new approaches to succeed. But is the problem beyond schools’ control?

Investigations Into Epic Charter Schools Explained

Sep 13, 2019

From TV and radio ads to the steady flow of news stories, it has been difficult to ignore Epic Charter Schools lately. With multiple ongoing investigations into the school’s finances and enrollment, here is a comprehensive look at what has transpired and what it could mean for future state policy.

Raising The Kindergarten Age In Oklahoma May Leave Some Children Out

Aug 15, 2019
Heather Canales reads to children in a pre-kindergarten class at WovenLife, which offers early childhood development in Oklahoma City. Photo taken on August 1, 2019.
Lenora LaVictoire / StateImpact Oklahoma

A controversial proposal in the Oklahoma state legislature would delay the age kids would be eligible to start kindergarten and put Oklahoma on-trend with dozens of other states. But some childhood experts say the trend may not serve Oklahoma kids well.

Did Lobbying Efforts Influence Spending On School Panic Button?

Aug 2, 2019
The Rave Mobile Safety app features a large "active shooter" button at the top and other buttons for reporting emergencies such as a fire or medical emergency.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A $3 million taxpayer-funded program will soon give schools across the state access to a relatively untested “panic button” app that can alert authorities and staff if there is an active shooter, fire or emergency in the school.

A sign is seen outside of 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City, where Epic Charter Schools leases 40,000 square feet for administrative use.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma investigators believe Epic Charter Schools embezzled money by inflating its enrollment with homeschool and private school students. Because of the state’s dedication to privacy, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister says the alleged abuse would not have been preventable under current state law.

A sign is seen outside of 50 Penn Place in Oklahoma City, where Epic Charter Schools leases 40,000 square feet for administrative use.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A state investigator’s search warrant filed in court Tuesday seeks evidence of alleged embezzlement of state funds and obtaining money under false pretenses at Epic Charter Schools, including through the use of “ghost students” who receive no actual instruction at the school.

Sixth grade science teacher Melissa Lau prepares a lesson on climate change using "tree cookies" for her students at Piedmont Intermediate on July 1, 2019.
Caroline Halter / StateImpact Oklahoma

Melissa Lau is preparing for the coming school year. She teaches 6th grade science in Piedmont, just northwest of Oklahoma City. Inside her classroom, she’s laid out over thirty cross sections from the trunks of red cedar trees. Each ring represents one year of growth. Lau calls them “tree cookies.” 

Former Epic Teachers Describe Pressure To Manipulate Enrollment

Jun 27, 2019
Epic Charter Schools' is transforming its testing site in Midwest City to a blended center that will serve students in grades 7 through 12.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Administrators at Epic Charter Schools have been allowing, encouraging or pressuring teachers to manipulate students’ enrollment for years in order to improve employees’ bonus pay, according to at least seven former teachers.

Michael Payne sorts through boxes of donated food at the end of the 2019 school year at Northeastern State University.
Caroline Halter / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma has slashed funding for higher education by over 25 percent since 2008. In response, each public university has raised tuition, but the cuts have had a disproportionate effect on the state’s 11 regional institutions and the students they serve.

Two students at Ketchum Elementary School write on a dry-erase board during their speech class.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Gov. Kevin Stitt has abandoned a 2017 effort by the state to push schools to funnel more dollars into the classroom or risk consolidation.

It has been nearly one year since the teacher walkout, when thousands of educators flooded Oklahoma’s state capitol demanding better pay and more school funding. After nine days and little progress, they turned their attention to the 2018 elections.

Teachers, students and supporters march in front of the capitol on April 2 during a walkout aimed at increasing education funding.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

In Oklahoma, 30,000 teachers have left the profession in the past six years. That’s the eye-popping statistic that stands out in the latest Oklahoma Teacher Supply and Demand report, and it represents a loss of an average of 10 percent of the state’s teaching workforce—compared to a national average of 7.7 percent attrition.

Caroline Halter / KGOU

In this episode of Capitol Insider KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley speak with Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who shares her thoughts on the state's new report cards, regulating virtual charter schools, and school funding. 

Thousands more Oklahoma students were held back in early grades than what the U.S. Department of Education reported, according to newly released state data.

With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

Oklahoma City residents ask questions at a town-hall meeting about a trio of proposals to close schools, consolidate operations and make other changes throughout the district.
Lenora LaVictoire / StateImpact Oklahoma

At U.S. Grant High School in south Oklahoma City, administrators watch as 500 students eat lunch.

The lunchroom is small, and overcrowding has forced administrators to add lunch periods to feed all the students. Today, the first group will eat at 10:30 a.m. and the last will finish at 1:30 p.m. — one hour before school lets out.

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