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Activities Environment Blamed for Low Academic Achievement in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

Student time spent outside the classroom on activities was blamed in part Wednesday for a lack of academic achievement in Oklahoma as part of a discussion by members of the Office of Accountability's Education Oversight Board.

Discussion on various issues came up for the members of the board, including barriers to student academic achievement.

Patrick Gilmore said it was his experience that small schools in Oklahoma - those in Class 3A or below - typically had little to no academic coursework in the afternoons during the spring semester due to the high number of sports activities.

"After 11 a.m., you're done," Gilmore said.

State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City, said she had spoken with officials with the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association and was told that students weren't missing that much school due to activities during the school day. She said rules were in place to keep it from happening, including one that limited activity absences to 10 days.

"We all know what's happening," Wilcoxson said.

Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Andy Young, a non- voting member on the board, said Oklahoma had significant challenges in addressing this issue given that two-thirds of the state's schools had small numbers of students. He said that for many small schools, there was a problem with having enough hours in the day for all of the activities needing to be performed in the one gymnasium in the town.

"There is a ten-day (limit), and it is supposed to be enforced, but there are some extenuating circumstances," Young said.

Also discussed was the need to increase the budget for the Oklahoma School Performance Review program.

Reviews for Broken Bow and Idabel were presented to the members, and Director Robert Buswell said it appeared the program was working in a positive manner for the 19 school districts that had been reviewed thus far. …