Tulsa World Editorial: A Data-driven Approach to Improving Student Outcomes (Tulsa World)

In the Tulsa tradition, a group of community leaders has recognized a daunting problem, worked out a smart strategy for addressing it and are forging ahead.

ImpactTulsa is a privately organized, data-driven effort to make real, measurable improvements in metropolitan Tulsa’s public schools.

The group — led by former Mayor Kathy Taylor and funded by the Schusterman Family Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Tulsa Area United Way, Tulsa Regional Chamber and Tulsa Community Foundation — will provide its initial public report Tuesday, and the challenges are significant.

Initial recommendations include:

  • Establish a universal kindergarten readiness standard and measurement tool for use by the ImpactTulsa partner schools by the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Identify and share best practices to increase reading proficiency by third grade.
  • Increase the percentage of students graduating from high school ready for postsecondary education and careers.

The need to address the problem is real. Here are two of the key indicators from ImpactTulsa’s first report that we found particularly troubling: Only 28 percent of Tulsa-area eighth-graders are on track for college, and, at the current rate, more than 20,000 Tulsa-area students will drop out in the next decade.

Our community can’t afford to lose such a huge segment of the next generation.

With the buy-in of top leaders in education, philanthropy, the faith community and the business world, ImpactTulsa’s aim is to bring tested best practices to 10 school districts in Tulsa County and then closely monitor the results.

That’s a pragmatic, informed program driven by the private sector and an example of how Tulsa works best: An organized group of motivated leaders recognizing a problem and taking aggressive, intelligent steps to deal with it.

Don’t say that Tulsans can’t solve problems that way. Indeed, it’s the way we always have.

Editorial first posted on the Tulsa World, Tuesday, October 21, 2014.