OKLAHOMA SCHOOLS WORKING FOR RECOGNITION

Written by Patricia Hawke for www.schoolsk-12.com

All schools across America strive for excellence, which is reflected through various regional, state, or national awards.  Being recognized as an excellent place of learning can help schools in numerous ways.  Some awards give the recipients a cash bonus, while others give an endorsement of excellence.  Oklahoma City Public Schools are no exception.  Recognized for numerous, innovative programs, and admirable improvement, Oklahoma Schools enjoy a high status within the 50 states. Improved in reading and math, advances in technology, and being named a Blue Ribbon School are all examples of these recognitions.
 
One of the highest national honors an Oklahoma School (or any other school in the nation, for that matter), can receive is being named a Blue Ribbon School.  The Blue Ribbon honors schools that have closed achievement gaps and where students are excelling at high levels. For the 2006 – 2007 school year, several Oklahoma Schools have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. More than 50 schools in the state
have been honored since this program began in 1982. Six Oklahoma Schools were honored for the school year. Four elementary schools and two middle schools received the honor.
                                   
The number of K-12 schools, public or private, that each state can nominate depends on that state’s population. 60 percent of schools nominated each year for the Blue Ribbon status are recognized by the federal government. All six of the nominated Oklahoma Schools won the recognition.    These Oklahoma Schools are recognized because they have met criteria in two areas. These requirements are:  improvements made by low-income students, and schools that have scored in the top 10% on the state’s standardized tests.
 
Advances in technology have been made in Oklahoma Schools.  More than 200,000 computers are available for students’ use, at a rate of one computer for every three students. Ninety-nine percent of Oklahoma Schools classrooms have internet access.        
A majority of this progress in technology comes from the federal E-Rate program, local bond issues and grants, and upgrades for schools and libraries in high poverty areas.
Oklahoma Schools not only added technology to the classrooms, but have also integrated standards defining basic skills of technology into its core curriculum for Pre-K through 12th grade, known as the Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS). Students must learn the operation of a computer, application of software as a tool, problem-solving skills, telecommunications skills and ethical and legal issues in using technology.
 
Oklahoma Schools have shown improved performance in reading and math at all levels between 2002 and 2006. Achievement gaps between different ethnic groups have
narrowed between 2002 and 2006 in reading at all grade levels tested.  The biggest improvements were seen in elementary math, but reading scores have also increased.
In the Technology Counts 2007 report released March 29, Oklahoma Schools earned an overall B- compared to the national average of a C+.  The state’s schools scored an A- in the use of technology for student standards, establishing a virtual school and offering computer-based testing. Oklahoma Schools, as well as the other schools throughout the nation were surveyed to measure the status of K-12 educational technology; developments over the past ten years are also considered.     
 
Patricia Hawke is a staff writer for Schools K-12, providing free, in-depth reports on all U.S. public and private K-12 schools. For more information please visit <a target="_new" href="http://www.schoolsk-12.com/Oklahoma/Oklahoma-City/index.html">Oklahoma City Public Schools</a>

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