- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma educators crowded into a state Capitol meeting room Tuesday to kick off a legislative study of educational practices that one lawmaker said could influence the course of public education in the state.

School administrators from urban and rural districts spoke to the House Common Education Committee, which is tasked with looking at current public-school practices such as student achievement and success in the classroom.

The goal of the study is to give educators a forum to share their instructional techniques, according to Rep. Ann Coody, a retired educator and the committee chair.

“Educators beg, borrow and steal. We borrow ideas from each other,” the Lawton Republican said. “Oklahoma is doing a great job with education. Sometimes, we don’t give our schools the acclamation they deserve,” Coody said.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Robert Neu says educators in his district - the state’s largest with 46,000 students - feel a moral imperative to lift the performance of struggling students.

“We’ve got to ensure that all students can be successful,” Neu said.

His staff has developed a multi-faceted approach to accomplishing the goal, including early student literacy, student engagement and mastery of core subjects, accelerated performance of underperforming students and high school graduation, Neu said.

Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist said her district is focusing on the effectiveness of teachers as it works to improve the quality of classroom instruction by observing their performance and providing quality feedback.

“It’s about growing professional teachers,” Gist said. “We can all remember great teachers we had who mattered to you, who made a difference in our lives.”

Student achievement is the primary focus for Sharon-Mutual Schools, a rural district with 320 students, said superintendent Jeff Thompson.

“Students have a right to an education, but you don’t have a right to be smart. You have to learn,” Thompson said. “One-hundred percent of them matter to me. Those are our kids.”

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