A student successfully completing a course beyond Algebra II more than doubles his or her likelihood of completing a degree. 

Middle School Mathematics


In 2018, the share of students deemed proficient fell by about two percentage points (23.3 to 21.0 percent). One-in-ten economically disadvantaged students are proficient. For economically disadvantaged, African American students, the proficiency rate is less than one-in-twenty.

Overall, Tulsa students are in a bottom tier of performance for 8th grade mathematics nationally. Statewide proficiency levels, which are comparable to Tulsa’s, have fallen below U.S. averages since the early 2000s.

Tulsa has a lot of work to do to ensure students are college and career ready in math. Middle school math is an important indicator of success. The labor market is reserving its highest returns for workers with two broad skill sets: social and math. In an era of accelerated technological progress, workers’ unique human abilities to communicate, negotiate, persuade, task trade, and engage with others are increasingly valuable. Workers who can pair social skills with math-related capabilities (e.g., budgeting, accounting, forecasting, statistical analysis) will see a range of job opportunities and stronger wage growth.

Students make the choice to pursue a STEM career long before entering college. Interest in STEM fields can be heightened or diminished during pivotal middle school years. Positive experiences in STEM related activities inside and outside the classroom at this age influence a student’s long-term goals.


Parents, businesses, nonprofits, and community members can help by providing unique experiences inside and outside the classroom that connect math to careers and interests.

The Tulsa Regional STEM Alliance (TRSA) is building pathways for students to careers in STEM. Their Me & My Math Mentor program reaches 14 elementary schools. More than 100 mentors work with students in a fun, game-based setting to increase foundational basic math facts and set the stage for success in middle school. Third-grade students in the program showed a 14-point average improvement compared to a national improvement average of 13 points and a four point increase over local school peers.


TRSA is also leading professional development for educators to ensure they have the skills and materials needed to advance STEM. Developed in 2016, their STEM^3 program is a professional development series with year-long support for northeastern Oklahoma pre-K through postsecondary educators.


The model capitalizes on local talent and promotes Tulsa community leadership to ensure local sustainability. Sessions include national experts such as Next Generation Science Standards author, Brett Moulding, who demonstrated 3-D curriculum through phenomenon-based lesson plan development that aligns to Oklahoma Academic Standards for science.


TRSA goals for 2018 include reaching 130,000 students and providing professional development to 1,000 educators.