OKC Elementary School Looks To Improve After Receiving 'F' Grade

Thursday, November 7th 2013, 5:03 pm
By: News 9

The state's largest school district received disappointing results from the Oklahoma State Department of Education.

Out of 93 sites in Oklahoma City, 39 schools received "F" letter grades. Only 10 schools received an "A" in the district. While the letter grades were not what district officials wanted to see, they have already started the process of moving forward with the goal of improving.

Lee Elementary School is one of the schools that got and "F" from the state. Principal Shelley Deas said it was a frustrating result. She said her team of teachers deals with extra challenges every day. She said Lee Elementary is a 99% poverty school.

Out of about 700 K-5th graders in the school, only 70 speak English as their first language. Many students show up to Lee Elementary School unable to speak any English.

"It takes five years to become proficient in a language. That's all of elementary school, so we're always going to struggle with that test, and it's hard for me to see us set an English test down in front of an English speaking and we can't read it to them and they can't read it. It's hard," explained Deas.

11/6/2013 Related Story: Board Of Education Releases Grades For Oklahoma Public Schools

Beyond the language barrier, Deas said that many of the students have unstable lives outside of school. They have a high mobility rate of student moving from school to school, a high number of incarcerated parents and a high number of students whose parents have been deported.

To tackle the issues, Deas and her team of teachers implemented an hour of intense, small group work. The goal is to give students more one-on-one attention in phonics, reading, and comprehension. Deas said she has been proud of the improvements that her teachers have made with the students.

"Our kids made gains. Our teachers worked very hard, our kids worked very hard and we made gains," she explained.

Look up the grade for your child's school

But those improvements didn't show up in the state's grade. The school dropped from a "D" in 2012 to an "F" this year. Deas said many on her staff were frustrated after the grade came out because they had shown improvements in testing.

"In third grade, last year 20% of our students were satisfactory. This year 53% were satisfactory. Same thing in fourth grade, we had about 15-20% satisfactory last year, this year 43% satisfactory."

The school has been under Deas' leadership for two years. She said she implemented many changes and is confident that moving forward, the school will improve in the state grading system. She cited the fact that student in K-2 have already been testing 70% higher than those grade have in the past five years.

Once those students reach 3rd grade, their test scores will count toward the state grade. Deas said that she believes the younger kids will be the first to show enough improvement to make an impact on their grade.

11/6/2013 Related Story: Despite Scrutiny, Some Schools Stand Behind A-F System