By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City School District is officially on probation, but the district's Superintendent says it's a good thing.

Thursday the state Board of Education cited 14 Oklahoma City schools for poor performance on test scores, attendance and graduation rates. Yet the Superintendent sees it as a spur to improvement.

Just as Bricktown turned around downtown Oklahoma City, so Superintendent Karl Springer vows to turn around the Oklahoma City School system, only more so.

That's an ambitious goal for someone who has only been on the job for a year, but the sign on his desk conveys Springer's sense of urgency--and explains why he thinks probation is a good thing.

"It helps me as a school superintendent get the community to understand that what we've been talking about for 13 months is real," Springer said.

Starting this fall Oklahoma City and Tulsa will be among 10 districts in the country participating in a secondary school reading improvement initiative. The program, developed by the ACT and America's Choice, will be financed by federal stimulus dollars.

"We determined that Oklahoma City and Tulsa together, we could become the premiere urban school district in the United States working together," Springer said.

Springer says the two high schools on probation--U.S. Grant and Capitol Hill--are already showing improvement and could get off probation this year.

And starting next month Oklahoma City goes to full-day kindergarten to ensure the youngest students get off to a good start--and fulfill the goal inscribed outside one city school.

In recent history no large urban school system anywhere in the country has recorded the sort of academic turn-around that Springer is talking about.

He insists that Oklahoma City, along with Tulsa, will be the first.

Requests for an on camera interview from State Superintendent Sandy Garrett, but she hasn't made herself available for comment.

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