Tulsa Learning Academy has made big, positive changes this year with their move from Promenade Mall to the Alcott building and the addition the project-based learning program TLA Beyond.
It is some smaller changes over the last few years, however, that led to some impressive increases on their MAP testing scores. Last year, the percentage of students who met both reading and math proficiency went up by 10 percentage points. The MAP results also showed a 24-point increase in TLA students meeting reading growth goals. Principal Dixie Speer attributes this progress to a more proactive method.
“Our approach moved from kids are kind of on their own to we are going to nag and nurture you. The hands-on approach and the intentional relationship building that we have has made gains,” said Dixie. “We had a wrap-around approach with kids. They had an advisor and a content teacher for that given content.”
She said TLA has refocused from being a virtual school to become a blended learning environment. Most students still take classes online, but they also have to come in to get guidance when necessary. On any given day, more than 60 online students are onsite getting in-person instruction or support from their advisor.
In addition to the improved MAP scores, Tulsa Learning Academy students had a 97% course completion rate – an impressive number that shows the school is helping the kids who need it most.
“Most of the kids we get are overaged and under-credited. So, what is the quickest ways to get those kids up?” said Dixie. “We were finding if we put four classes on the platform, kids that are overwhelmed in a traditional school, now they are just overwhelmed online. What we did is we said we’re going to one course at a time. That way we get that quick win, and they are bought in really fast.”
Students at TLA average about a course a month with this system, but every student has different needs and, as a result, have to work at different speeds. Some students only need one or two more classes to earn their diploma, which frees up their time to work or take classes at TCC. Others have to complete a course every week to get on track to graduate.
“Some of them, we are their last opportunity to gain a diploma. Having that wrap-around approach is our staple,” said Dixie. “Our whole approach here is everybody comes with a story. You don’t know their story.”
Tulsa Learning Academy serves students in 6th grade and up. At their new location, they are able to provide more meals and transportation to students who need it while still offering the flexibility of a reduced school day. If you would like to enroll your student at Tulsa Learning Academy next year, learn more here.