Tahlequah Public Schools (Independent School District I035)
District Profile 2017-18
Tahlequah Public Schools (TPS) is a 5A school district of over 3600 students comprised of seven learning institutions. Sequoyah Pre-Kindergarten Center is a collaboration with Cherokee Nation Head Start serving PK children; Cherokee, Greenwood, and Heritage Elementary Schools serve children Kindergarten through fifth grade. Tahlequah Middle School serves grades 6-8; Tahlequah High School includes grades 9-12; and Central Academy is our alternative high school. The CCREA (Cherokee County Regimented Education Academy), or Boot School, is also on the campus of Central Academy and serves approximately 20 adjudicated youth at any given time.
Buses travel over 900 miles daily to pick up rural students as far as 35 miles away throughout the county, and transport over 1,300 students daily. The district transportation department also transports students home in the evening that attend the B&G Club After School Program. The demographic breakdown in Tahlequah Public Schools includes approximately 43% Native American, 38% White, 17% Hispanic, and 2% other ethnicities.
Students from eight K-8 Cherokee County schools feed into Tahlequah High School when they reach ninth grade. The 2016 Office of Accountability Profiles Report reflects a dropout rate of 8.9% at Tahlequah High School while the state average dropout rate was 7.2%. Only 60.5% of high school graduates completed the Regents' College-Bound Curriculum, according to the Profiles 2016 Report, compared to 80.8% statewide. However, the average GPA of high school seniors is 3.0. Additionally, our Gifted/Talented program provides services for 17.8% of our students and our Special Education Department serves approximately 16.3%.
Tahlequah is a beautiful community that values education, culture and art and is an economically diverse community. It is the home of Northeastern State University where there is a higher than average number of parents with a college degree (30%). The community also reflects a high poverty rate of 29% compared to the state average of 17% and a higher than average number of parents with less than a 12th grade education (15%). In October 2016, 754 of the students qualified for free/reduced lunch.
On average, districts received 42.1% of their funding from the local and county revenue, but Tahlequah receives only 26% from these sources. Comparably, most districts receive only 11.6% of their funds from federal sources, while Tahlequah Public Schools receives 16.3% of their funds from the federal government. The majority of the district’s revenue is received from the state at 57.6%.
The Profiles 2016 report states that the local unemployment rate is 9% compared to the state average of 6%. The low socio-economic level of the community brings about many challenges. However, the district works to overcome the barriers of poverty through community partnerships.
Our vision statement (Tigers ROAR: Removing Obstacles, Achieving Results) truly drives the district, the programs and the services provided to our students. The school district realizes that unless we remove the obstacles that prevent our students from being successful, our students will not be able to achieve their potential. Therefore, the district has a wide variety of programs geared toward overcoming our district's largest obstacle - poverty. Until the basic needs of the student are taken care of, learning will not occur.
TPS has a System of Care called CARE teams at each site. Students are referred to the CARE team primarily because they are not being successful in school. That team works with the student and family to determine the barrier that is preventing the student from learning, then addresses that barrier. Through community partnerships, Tahlequah Public Schools provides many resources that enhance our students' school experience, including School-Based Resource Officers, a School-Based Social Worker, School Nurses, Backpack Food Program, and School Clothing Closets, a Homeless Liaison and the B&G Club After School Program.
There are also many great traditions in Tahlequah worth noting that stand the test of time. Those traditions include an elementary program dedicated to a dynamic learning environment; a Gifted and Talented Program; and a well-rounded middle school emphasizing literacy, technology integration and STEM. Assorted course offerings at the high school level designed to prepare students for college and career include Advanced Placement, Career Tech, Pre-Engineering, Biomedical, a Math Ready Course to assist seniors to college, and Concurrent Enrollment opportunities. TPS boasts an outstanding alternative education program; community collaborations and a wide variety of athletics and extra-curricular offerings that provide our students every opportunity to develop their passion.
ACT Prep, Junior Achievement Biz Town, and the stocks challenge are all opportunities for students supported by Cherokee Nation. These traditions remain steadfast because we are committed to providing a quality education within a safe and caring learning environment.
Through community partnerships, Tahlequah Public Schools provides many resources that enhance our students’ school experience, including: School-Based Resource Officers partnered with the City of Tahlequah; one School-Based Social Worker partnered with DHS; School Nurses, the Backpack Food Program provided through community support; the School Clothing Closets and a full time Homeless Liaison funded in part with a Title X federal grant. The district partners with Cherokee Nation to provide early child care for students with children so that those students can continue their education without the added worry of child care.
Cherokee Nation Head Start partners with the Sequoyah PK Center to provide an outstanding early childhood experience for four year olds in the district. Northeastern State University partners with Tahlequah Public Schools by providing speech services for four year olds; placing pre-interns and interns in the district for clinical experiences, and by supporting our Robotics Programs in the schools. Our high school students are concurrently enrolled in NSU, ICTC and the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics Honors and AP courses; and are exposed to on-site career technology programs, as well as a rich variety of extra-curricular and co-curricular offerings.
District Vision Statement
(Removing Obstacles Achieving Results)!
District Mission Statement
Tahlequah Public Schools is committed to providing all students with a quality education within a safe and caring learning environment.
Goal #1: All students will achieve at their highest potential.
Utilizing practices that increase students’ levels of engagement
Goal #2: All stakeholders will work together to build a better school system.
Creating strong professional learning communities
Creating an engaging school culture for our stakeholders
Goal #3: All schools will have equitable resources.
Imbedding instructional technology
Literacy Resource Specialists and one elementary math coach to facilitate reading and math. Instructional technology coaches also assist in the integration of technology in the classroom. They model, instruct, support and provide resources for teachers to improve learning and increase student engagement in their classrooms. All sites utilize a dedicated time daily to challenge students at their learning level.
The alternative high school serves 50-60 students yearly who, for a variety of reasons, have not been successful in a regular school setting. This exemplary program graduated approximately thirty students in May 2017. Accommodations are made as needed including after school and online classes that allow students to make up credits at an accelerated pace in able to graduate on time.
Backpack Food Program
Through the local Food Bank and in cooperation with Boys & Girls Club of Tahlequah, community partners, the social worker and staff identify students who are hungry. Bags of non-perishable food are sent home in backpacks and include nutritious snacks that the students can just open and eat.
The Cherokee County Regimented Education Academy is on the campus of the Alternative School and serves approximately 20 adjudicated youth at any given time. The cadre (disciplinarian) is on site at all times to provide a structured environment. In lieu of incarceration, students attend the boot school to learn self-control while continuing their education. Instruction is individualized for each student and they attend individual and group counseling while attending.
Boys & Girls Club
Each school site is a Boys & Girls Club site and students come before school and/or after school to receive over 2 hours of fun, educational programs. Tutoring is offered to students and specific remediation programs provide small group instruction in reading and math for students identified in need of remediation. The TPS child nutrition program provides a nutritious meal and students then attend a "Choices" period. The district also provides transportation so that it is not a barrier for attending the after school program. Approximately 1,000 students per day attend in Boys & Girls Club.
Career Tech/ Oklahoma School of Science and Math
District students have the opportunity to be concurrently enrolled in the Career Tech to receive hands-on vocational training. Tahlequah High School students may enroll in a Pre-Engineering Program, BioMedical Program, Business/Computers/Technology, Family and Consumer Science and Vocational Agriculture. Tahlequah Middle School provides a technology education program, Medical Detectives, FACS and Vocational Agriculture. The Indian Capital Career Tech also includes the Oklahoma School of Science and Math which provides AP Calculus and Physics for qualified students.
The district has a full time Migrant Recruiter who also works with Hispanic families to ensure that they are well informed of school events, that they understand school policies and procedures and they know where to go to receive needed services for them and their children. He facilitates enrollment for non-English speaking parents and makes sure that students are appropriately placed to receive needed school services.
The district employs two full time gifted/talented coordinators that identify and serve gifted and talented students. Students are pulled out of regular class periodically for enrichment and projects including field trips, academic competition, and visits to museums, enrichment, and many other appropriate activities. Instructional technology is also a focus of the G/T instructors.
High School Food Locker
Also funded through donations, the high school maintains healthy food that students can easily prepare themselves. Donated toiletry items and school supplies are also distributed to students in need.
School Based Social Worker
Through a unique pilot program with DHS, the district is fortunate to maintain one School Based Social Worker after DHS eliminated the positions during the spring 2016 fiscal failures. The School Based Social Worker is an invaluable part of our student assistance program. The School Based Social Worker will conduct home visits and work closely with DHS to identify and monitor students who have been referred due to negligence or abuse.
School Clothing Closet
The School Clothing Closet stocks clothing, coats and shoes of all sizes as well as new underclothes. Local organizations keep the schools stocked with donations and organized so that students in need can have appropriate school clothes.
School nurses are on site to not only dispense medication and take care of minor medical emergencies, but also provide educational programs to students dealing with hygiene, hand washing, sex education and making good choices, drug and alcohol abuse and many other health related topics.
School Resource Officers
Provided through a partnership with the City of Tahlequah, four School Resource Officers work full time in the district to address a myriad of issues including truancy, child protection, students breaking the law, school safety, traffic control and any legal issues that arise. They also provide in-class presentations related to child safety, drug use, DARE and ALICE safety training.
Student advocates serve high school students, targeting Native American students who have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group. These advocates work with students and their families to overcome the barriers that prevent them from being successful in school. They travel to their homes, visiting with parents and students to address truancy, poor grades and discipline issues. They help arrange tutoring, counseling, schedule changes and needed social services. They often help homeless teens find shelter, refer students to therapeutic counseling for rehab services, and in general help teens overcome the obstacles that they view as insurmountable. They refuse to let students drop out and even assist them in passing a high school equivalency exam.
Student Drug Testing
All 7th -12th grade students involved in extra-curricular activities are required to be randomly drug tested and any 7th-12th grade student may volunteer to be in the drug testing pool. Random Student Drug Testing is a proven deterrent to drug use. Positive test results are kept confidential and all students who fail the drug tests are required to attend counseling sessions.
Through collaboration with the associate district judge and the district attorney's office, truancy court not only tickets parents who do not send their child to school, but also works with families to overcome the barrier that is preventing the child from attending.
Tutoring is offered to all students at every site before and after school. High school provides an Encore period for students to receive additional academic help during the day. Middle school students are provided time during the school day for intervention and remediation. Students needing Tier III instruction are identified and provided additional instruction during the school day or before/after school.