|Graduation rates rise consecutively for 3 years getting up to 76.9%|
|“I have been in the district for 29 years. I am more excited about this opportunity than any before. I truly feel supported by the district and the partners. Thank you!” – Janice Thoumire, Principal at Columbus Elementary|
In 2015 Superintendent Deborah Gist had just come on board and her team sought input from ERS for the district’s new five-year strategic plan. The challenges were and remain significant, given that Tulsa is a very low-funded district that faces significant obstacles recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. ERS’ work with Tulsa continues to strengthen its foundation for effective decision-making and helps to maintain coherence across the district’s strategic initiatives. The district's progress demonstrates how ongoing strategic investment leads to sustainable progress.
Tulsa Public Schools faced a budget crunch, lagging student achievement, and a struggle to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. To make progress, the new superintendent needed make sure the district was making the most of every dollar they had.
The resulting ERS analysis provided the foundation for setting ambitious but achievable priorities aligned to Superintendent Gist's vision. Those priorities target redesigning what teaching and learning look like for both adults and children, and improving teacher capacity to deliver college- and career-ready standards-aligned instruction. To add to the challenge, the district had to address those priorities at no additional cost and ensure that all of the efforts complemented each other instead of clashing. This transparent effort to improve resource use has set the stage for efforts to raise additional dollars as the community has increased confidence in the district’s use of resources and understanding of what new dollars could do.
ERS’ support began in 2015 with conducting a Strategic Resource Map while simultaneously developing a new teacher compensation model and talent management strategy. Since that first year, ERS continues to work closely with the district and several cohorts of schools to implement Strategic School Designs and to create strong, coherent, systemwide conditions to enable transformation. Highlights of the work include:
The ERS Strategic Resource Map detailed TPS’ use of people, time, and money to identify how the district could use its resources more strategically and equitably to improve student achievement. This analysis led to building a coherent strategy for school and system improvement focused on five key priorities: Teacher leader pathways, school performance framework, restorative practices, quality instructional resources and assessments, and redesign of secondary schools.
Collaborating with Leading Educators, ERS supported a subset of elementary schools to develop teacher-led, content-focused cycles of professional learning as a lever to improve instructional practice and student outcomes. ERS’ support involved working directly with school leaders to articulate a three-pronged theory of action:
ERS’ additional role was to knit together other collaborating technical support providers as part of the district strategy, schedule, and staffing plan. ERS worked to ensure all the efforts within schools aligned with TPS priorities and resource decisions.
ERS ensured coherence for TPS’ effort to implement and support strategic school design by addressing several fundamental system conditions to enable the efforts of each school. This required: