Q: What is the Pathway to Greatness (P2G) project?
- A plan that charts a path forward for OKCPS to improve the health of our system & equity for students
- A phased process to align OKCPS facilities & resources with instructional needs
- A community engagement process that informs and incorporates the voices of our families, students, staff and community
Oklahoma City Public Schools is committed to providing equitable access to a world class education so every OKCPS student will graduate ready to fulfill their unique purpose in a healthy, vibrant community.
To accomplish this, we launched Pathway to Greatness (P2G), an ambitious but natural next step in our journey that began with The Great Conversation which led to our district’s strategic plan, The Great Commitment.
Trends over time show that our enrollment is declining slightly and will likely level-off in the next couple of years. This means our share of state funding will decline, even if the overall funding level increases again. A comparison of the number of students we have enrolled and the amount of space in our school buildings shows that we are maintaining a lot of instructional space that we aren’t using, a choice that is directing resources to facilities instead of to our top priority: students.
The project, which began in January 2018 and was unanimously approved by the Board in March 2019, included a thorough assessment of all our facilities, a detailed demographic study, and input from our staff and our stakeholders - all of which have allowed us to reimagine how OKCPS will operate in the future.
The Board and our Superintendent believe that this work is critical to improve the health of the entire system and to provide equity for our students, maximizing our resources to provide “trade ups” that will expand high quality learning opportunities and supports for all of our students.
Q: Why did OKCPS choose to launch this work in 2019?
OKCPS has done considerable work in the last few years to update our instructional practices, to collect and analyze data about long-term trends, and to stabilize our financial situation. Through these efforts, it became clear to the Board of Education that our district was primed and ready for a reinvention to take us to the next level. So, the Board and the Superintendent launched the Pathway to Greatness, an overall assessment of our facilities and programs, which is necessary to inform decisions that will move us forward. We know that:
- The status quo is not acceptable.
- Our past way of doing business has contributed to the problems we face.
- This is a district-wide problem that requires a district-wide solution.
- We must build on what is working and improve what is not working.
- It is time to create the future of education, not recreate the past.
Our top priority is to provide equitable learning opportunities that achieve our vision of every student graduating ready to fulfill their unique purpose in a healthy, vibrant community.
The Pathway to Greatness project is the next step on our journey that began with The Great Conversation and led to our District's strategic plan, The Great Commitment. The final deliverable will be a Long Range Facility Master Plan that will align with the collective vision for the future of OKCPS.
In order to give our students what they deserve and to offer equitable access to the services they need to be successful in the classroom and in life, OKCPS cannot continue to operate with over 25,000 vacant seats in our district. Those resources should be going to serve our students, not to maintain empty space.
Q: How does this work fit with OKCPS’ existing strategic plan, The Great Commitment?
In 2015, over the course of 8 months, more than 1,200 students, parents, community members and district staff embarked on “The Great Conversation” to define what student success looks like for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Through our diverse voices, interests and commitment to student improvement, this community defined what is most important for our students and families.
From those discussions, OKCPS’ strategic plan -- The Great Commitment, Working Together As One - For all Students -- was created and approved by the Board of Education on June 25, 2015.
We believe that the Pathway to Greatness Project is the next step to follow through on our Great Commitment to our students and to our community.
Q: What principles have guided the decision-making for The Pathway to Greatness project?
OKCPS leaders and those working on our committees used the following principles to guide their discussions and decision-making:
- We believe our top priority must be serving students equitably, rather than maintaining under-enrolled facilities.
- We believe families deserve high-quality educational opportunities in 21st century learning environments.
- We believe that racially and socioeconomically integrated schools are best for students.
- We believe that planning in consistent PK-12 feeder patterns and grade bands provides the best experience for students.
- We believe in keeping neighborhoods together.
- We believe that every district facility should be used for a positive community purpose.
Q: What factors were considered in the Pathway to Greatness?
Our consultant, ADG, conducted extensive research over several months to fulfill the Board’s request for evaluation of 10 criteria as they pertain to OKCPS facilities. The data, which were released last fall, were based on direction provided by the OKCPS Board of Education in their D-12 policy set in July 2018.
The data, together with community input gathered from multiple surveys, thousands of comments submitted through our website, and six community meetings, served as a starting point for discussions with our Navigators (community representatives), Trailblazers (education experts) and District leadership. In January, three paths were born out of those data-informed discussions with guidance on feasibility from our consultants. After another round of stakeholder feedback, a Final Path was recommended on February 21st.
In addition to input from our stakeholders, these items were strongly considered in our path creation:
- Analyze data generated from Board Policy D-12 Criteria
- Keep students from each elementary together through middle and high school
- Meet recommendations for grade bands and school sizes, where possible
- Maximize the use of existing facilities
- Eliminate use of portable classrooms, if possible
- Include some room for transfers and potential growth in school capacities
- Protect cultural diversity of schools
- Acknowledge and address demographic and cultural changes to schools
- Expand access to District-run choice options in each region of the district
- Keep neighborhoods together, where possible
Q: What is the Final Path that was recommended by the Superintendent and approved by the Board on March 4, 2019?
The Final Path called for 15 school sites to close for repurposing; with 7 elementary schools to become middle schools, 3 mid-high schools to become high schools, and 3 other school sites to be reconfigured to house other school programs.
These decisions were made after a deep look at the data to inform the process, and we continue to work on plans to ensure that we have a positive community purpose for all of these buildings that will close to be repurposed.
To accommodate more consistent grade bands across the district, a set of elementary schools will now shift to begin housing middle school programs. OKCPS will also reconfigure our existing mid-high schools to house only 9th to 12th grades.
The exception to these consistent grade bands is the Star Spencer feeder pattern in which all communities currently zoned to Star Spencer High School will begin attending school together from Pre-K. The grade bands in the Star Spencer feeder pattern will enable larger teams of teachers to collaborate, more learning opportunities for students, and families to build strong relationships over time. Unfortunately, the sizes of the facilities in the area do not lend themselves to alignment with the grade bands recommended by the Trailblazers committee. To provide increased opportunities for students in Star Spencer High School, it will be reconfigured into a 7-12, bringing enrollment and more teachers for our students. The Star Spencer grade bands will be Pre-K-1, 2-3, 4-6, and 7-12.
Our data also suggested that several schools needed to find a new home through this process, as well. We made it a priority to find a district-owned space on the southside for Emerson South, a district alternative program, which is currently housed in leased space. The transition of FD Moon to house middle school required a new location for KIPP Reach. Also, facility assessments of two buildings currently housing charter schools, the former Polk ES and Harding MS buildings, indicated that these buildings were too costly to maintain and repair. We have worked with these existing schools to find new homes in one of our vacated buildings. It is important to note that none of the programs slated for relocation closed; they were simply moved to another building.
Q: How has the District guided schools through the transition of blending populations/cultures?
Research shows this is one of the most important pieces of a successful district reinvention.
Once a final path is selected, there will be a lot of logistics to manage, but moving books, records, and technology are just one piece of this reinvention. The District has worked with schools to develop transition plans which included things like Open Houses for students, families & staff, team building opportunities for our staff and PTA leadership, and combined end-of-year activities for the students. Our school climate team also provided (and will continue to provide) training and consultation to schools where needed to assist with the blending of school communities.
We have also chosen to rebrand some schools, to include Classen SAS High School at Northeast. This rebranding might include renaming of the school, a new logo, a change to school colors, etc.
It’s important to remember that children are resilient, and at the end of the day, blending our communities into schools with healthier enrollment numbers has provided more opportunities for families to collaborate and will make OKCPS stronger. New school boundaries meant neighbors coming together in new ways to support their schools, and I hope that our communities will continue to embrace the opportunities and possibilities that the Pathway to Greatness offers.
Q: What is your message to families who are concerned with how P2G might be affecting their students?
We hope that our families will continue to come together to champion strong schools, whether that is in their current building or in a new location. A strong community of parents and other stakeholders working together is essential for our students, our schools and our city to thrive. Educators can't do it alone. It will take a village.
Although the past few months have been challenging, we are confident that this work is necessary to improve the health of the entire OKCPS system and to provide equity and opportunity for our students. Now more than ever, we must all come together and focus on the future. Our students deserve it and our city's long-term success depends on it.
OKCPS will continue to serve every child. This renewal and reinvention process is vital to our schools becoming the centers of learning that our students, families and staff deserve.
We must continue to have open-minded, engaged families and community members with us at every step in this process in order to create the best possible future for all OKCPS students. As our teachers and our community proved last Spring, we are truly stronger together.
New school boundaries will mean neighbors coming together in new ways to support their schools, and I hope that our communities will embrace the opportunities and possibilities that the Pathway to Greatness offers.
THE VOTE / NAME OF THE BUILDING
What process did the district follow to gather input prior to the P2G vote?
P2G was informed by a thorough assessment of District facilities and a detailed demographic study, as well as input from District staff and a variety of other stakeholders. In developing the three possible pathways, community meetings were held to obtain initial input and share the process with the community as follows: November 5th at Star Spencer High School, November 6th at Northwest Classen High School, November 7th and 8th at U.S. Grant High School and November 12th at Douglass Mid-High School.
On January 22, 2019, Supt. McDaniel presented the Board with three (3) possible pathways all of which included the movement of Classen School of Advanced Studies High School (“Classen SAS”) to Northeast Academy, formerly Northeast High School (“Northeast”). This presentation was followed by multiple opportunities for open community feedback as follows: January 23rd and 24th at U.S. Grant High School, January 28th at Star Spencer High School, January 29th at Douglass Mid-High School, and January 30th at Northwest Classen High School.
Then, on February 3, 2019, Supt. McDaniel provided a weekend update to the Board which summarized the process to date. In that same update, Dr. McDaniel specifically stated that the Classen SAS 9th through 12th grade would move to Northeast Academy and would be called Classen SAS High School. The same message also advised the Board that there would need to be further discussion regarding how to incorporate the name “Northeast” into the high school name and how to affirm and honor the Northeast legacy.
Supt. McDaniel communicated with multiple alumni and community members regarding this issue, and on February 12, 2019, OKCPS invited members of the Northeast Alumni Association to participate in an online survey to gather their feedback on ideas as to how how to honor the legacy of Northeast.
On February 21, 2019, when Supt. McDaniel presented the final recommendation for P2G to the Board, there were several questions regarding whether “Northeast” would be included in the name of Classen SAS High School. At that time, Dr. McDaniel informed the Board that his final recommendation was to expand and relocate the high school portion of the existing Classen SAS program to the Northeast Academy campus and rename the school Classen SAS High School.
The recommended P2G path was then presented at community meetings on February 25th at Capitol Hill High School, February 26th at U.S. Grant High School, and February 27th at Northwest Classen High School.
One portion of the recommended Final Path was the expansion of the Classen SAS program, which is one of the District’s most successful application schools.
Over the years, Northeast’s enrollment had significantly declined while Classen SAS, which housed middle and high school students in the same building, operated with an extensive waiting list. Since Classen SAS’s school building limited the number of students who could enroll and one of the guiding principles of P2G was to build on our successful programs, a recommendation was made to move Classen SAS High School to Northeast thereby allowing more students to enroll in the program and increasing equity opportunities for more of the District’s students. Additionally, by moving Classen SAS High School to the Northeast campus, OKCPS could also increase enrollment opportunities for Classen SAS Middle School students who would remain at the original Classen SAS site.
On March 4, 2019, Supt. McDaniel made the recommendation to the Board for the P2G plan as presented at the February 21, 2019 Board meeting which included moving Classen SAS High School to Northeast and renaming the school building Classen SAS High School. The PowerPoint presentation which was displayed during the Superintendent’s presentation included a slide regarding application schools and a slide which showed that Northeast was to house Classen SAS High School. The Board unanimously approved Supt. McDaniel’s recommendation as to the final path under P2G. By such action, the Board renamed Northeast to Classen SAS High School in the same way that it renamed Greystone Elementary School to John Marshall Middle School and Rancho Village Elementary School to Emerson South, and West Nichols Hills Elementary School to Belle Isle 5/6 School.
Why was the name of the building changed to Classen SAS High School at Northeast?
The recommendation for all program expansions in Pathway to Greatness was that the name of the program follow the program to its new facility to provide clarity for parents, students, and the public. Therefore, the Northeast Academy facility was renamed Classen SAS High School at Northeast, as this is the program that is housed there. Similarly, West Nichols Hills Elementary School is now known as Belle Isle 5-6 Middle School, and Parmelee Elementary is known as Southeast Middle School. However, the Board recognizes that the Northeast name has important and unique historical significance to our district and our city. OKCPS is dedicated to preserving the history of Northeast while continuing to grow and continue its quest for academic and artistic excellence at Classen SAS High School at Northeast.
How is the Board positioned to represent a variety of diverse voices?
The OKCPS Board of Education is a good representation of our very diverse district, where we welcome a student population that is 2% Asian, 3% Native American, 14% Caucasian, 22% African American, and 54% Hispanic. These leaders are passionate about improving educational opportunities and achievement for all students passing a board policy in 2017 to address the decades of inequity in our educational system and the OKCPS District. It is easy to focus on decades of neglect and overlook actions of the last two years.
Our current board has been among the most aggressive in recent years to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for children. The board has recently taken action to build a strong foundation for our students to have access to textbooks, art, music, middle school athletics, counselors, school nurses, etc.; to address the chronic issues facing our schools with high student mobility, homelessness, and family instability; to address the mental health crisis of our students that led to over 300 student suicide attempts and a few deaths from suicide; to work with the teachers union and union for classified employees to improve their overall compensation and make OKCPS a better employer. Our Board remains dedicated to providing a quality education for all children by setting goals and tracking metrics.
LEGACY INITIATIVES / SCHOOL BRANDING
What is the district’s plan to honor the legacy of Northeast High School / Northeast Academy?
From the beginning, OKCPS has committed to working together with families, alumni and the existing school community to honor the legacy of all impacted schools.
On May 28th, Supt. McDaniel met with Richard Clark, the president of the Northeast Alumni Association to preview the district’s ideas for honoring the legacy of Northeast and to get his feedback. Then, on June 20th, the renderings were shared publicly with OKCPS staff and the community. Finally, on August 26th, the final draft of his Legacy recommendations were shared at the Board Work Session. This is after meeting with several other alumni, faculty and staff, patrons, and community leaders from Northeast OKC. We are currently finalizing the process and leadership for each of the 3 committees that will ultimately guide the legacy efforts.
Alumni Room - The alumni room will commemorate history with items such as trophies, photos, championship banners, letter jackets, records, and other items that are meaningful for school alumni.
Street Name - The north-south street that connects 30th St. to 33rd St. through the middle of the campus will be named after a prominent NEHS/NEA alumnus, patron, faculty or staff member, team, or other figure recommended by a representative committee and presented to the Board of Education. A street sign bearing the name will be placed at both entrances to the campus; one on 30th St. and one on 33rd St.
Media Center - The media center within Classen SAS High School at Northeast will be named after a prominent NEHS/NEA alumnus, patron, faculty or staff member, team, or other figure recommended by a representative committee and presented to the Board of Education. A plaque with personal biography will be placed outside the entrance to the media center.
Viking Plaza - The current plaza located on the north side of the school will be landscaped and refurbished. Viking benches that have been donated to Northeast High School/Northeast Academy over the years which are now in safe-keeping at the OKCPS Operations Center will be relocated to the plaza, along with a sculpture and/or monument that honors the NEHS/NEA Viking history.
Internal & External Signage - Lettering on the side of the building & on the marquee will display the name of the school: Classen School of Advanced Studies High School at Northeast. The font sizes of Classen and Northeast will be the same.
Engraving on Building & Viking Mascot in main entrance floor - Carved into the stone on the side of the building are the words NORTHEAST HIGH SCHOOL. Placed in the floor tile in the main entrance to the school is a large, round Viking mascot. Both the stone engraving and the tile mascot will be refurbished and will continue to be a part of the history of the building.
Curriculum - A unit of instruction will be designed to engage students in exploring the history of Northeast High School and Northeast Academy. During the 2019-2020 school year this unit will be taught to all students in grades 9-12. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, all incoming freshmen to Classen SAS High School at Northeast will be taught about the history of NEHS/NEA.
VIEW NE LEGACY PRESENTATION: CSASNE
Who will chair the Legacy committees?
We are currently finalizing the process, committee membership, and leadership for each of the 3 committees that will ultimately guide the legacy efforts.
Dr. McDaniel met with the President and the Vice President of the NE Alumni Association on May 28th to preview the district’s ideas for honoring the legacy of Northeast at get their feedback. Both Alumni leaders indicated that the only thing that they and the NE Alumni Association were interested in was the school name change. Subsequently, Dr. McDaniel visited with multiple groups and individuals who expressed interest in assisting in various ways as the conversation about honoring the legacy and history of NEHS and NEA developed.
On June 20th, the renderings were shared publicly with OKCPS staff and the community. Then on August 26, the final draft of his Legacy recommendations were shared at the Board Work Session.
Why were the alumni benches removed from the campus?
During construction at the site over the summer, The Northeast alumni benches were placed into safe-keeping at the OKCPS Operations Center. They will be relocated to campus inside of Viking Plaza, one of the Northeast legacy initiatives proposed by OKCPS.
Why were there no Viking legacy images in the gym floors as initially proposed?
The initial Legacy renderings that were created in May 2019 and shared publicly in June 2019 were intended to start discussions about ways OKCPS might incorporate and honor Northeast. However, based on feedback received from a variety of stakeholders, inclusion of the legacy image in the gym floor design was ultimately dropped from consideration.
Will OKCPS incorporate Northeast Academy’s school colors of crimson and silver?
No, the official school colors for Classen SAS High School at Northeast will be blue and gold to reflect the existing Classen SAS program currently being housed inside the building today. However, OKCPS will continue to honor the history and legacy of Northeast in a variety of ways, to include the placement of school colors and other items inside the Legacy Room located on campus.
How will signage across the campus, as well as other branding, reflect the school’s new name of Classen SAS High School at Northeast?
Since the March 4th Board meeting, OKCPS has spent a considerable amount of money and has invested countless hours on building signage, a new marquee, athletic uniforms, updates to the school website, and the creation of new school logo and letterhead for Classen SAS at Northeast.
OKCPS has ordered and will install uniform-sized lettering to reflect the new name “Classen School of Advanced Studies High School at Northeast”. We anticipate this will be accomplished no later than November 30, 2019. We will also make adjustments to the existing lettering on the school’s marquee to ensure that the size of the lettering on this sign is uniform as well.
School leaders have adjusted branding on the school’s logo, website, social media handles, school letterhead and transcripts to reflect the full name of the school, to be officially known as “Classen School of Advanced Studies at Northeast.”
Is this a merger?
Dr. McDaniel has stated that a “merger” in this case was the act of bringing two groups of students together in the same building. In this instance, Classen SAS high school students are being relocated to the facility that has been home to Northeast High School and Northeast Academy. All 2018-2019 NEA students who chose to do so are Classen SAS High School at Northeast or Classen SAS Middle School students in 2019-2020.
Practically speaking, the Classen SAS program has expanded to two campuses; a middle school campus and a high school campus. Pursuant to a board directive, which was to expand successful programs, Northeast Academy closed as a school and the Classen SAS High School was relocated into that space. In 2018-2019, several NEA students were enrolled in a ‘Health Sciences track.’ Any former NEA student who now attends Classen SAS High School at Northeast has the opportunity to continue in the Health Sciences track. Students also have access to a wide array of Advanced Placement courses and other rigorous learning opportunities that were not previously available to students at NEA.
CAMPUS INVESTMENTS / BOND DOLLARS
Q: What is the estimated cost for implementation of P2G’s Final Path in order to ensure schools were ready to host students on August 12th for the first day of school? Where do those funds come from?
The estimated costs for implementation of P2G for “Day One” school readiness was projected to be approximately $11M. These costs include improvements to our school sites (bathroom updates, athletic, special education and fine art classroom needs) as well as playgrounds and recreation areas, new buses and mobile science labs for example. The District has been using 2007 and 2016 bond funds for these implementation costs, and we have accelerated many of our partner projects such as Fields & Futures in order to bring P2G to life.
Why was the stadium torn down?
The stadium was slated for demolition before the P2G vote. It is important to note the stadium was in unacceptable condition to host events and had not been used for competitive games in several years. In recent years, the field was only used for practice purposes. The stadium was a major safety hazard for the students and the community and was broken into almost weekly despite the District’s best efforts to secure it. Due to the overall poor condition of the stadium, it was not cost effective to remediate due to current building and ADA codes. Lastly, until the summer of 2017, the City of Oklahoma City was the owner of the field. OKCPS took possession of the field following an agreement with the city to swap Creston Hills and Marcus Garvey for the athletic field at Northeast campus.
How many members of the staff from Northeast Academy were kept at Classen SAS High School at Northeast for the 2019-20 school year?
OKCPS was pleased that 5 members of the instructional staff, an assistant principal and the entire front office team who served Northeast Academy last year returned to Classen SAS High School at Northeast for the 2019-20 school year.
Why don’t Northeast students have Classen teachers or why don’t they have class with Classen SAS students?
Each student at Classen SAS High School at Northeast has an individual schedule built for her or him. Because we provided the opportunity for former NEA students to stay in the Health Sciences track, there are a couple of classes that only former NEA students have the prerequisites to take. Otherwise, all students are scheduled into classes they will need to meet graduation and program requirements. Nearly all classes have students who attended Classen and students who attended Northeast Academy last year in them.
CLASS OFFERINGS / THIRD TRACK
Are the students who attended Northeast able to complete their existing Health Sciences pathway?
Students who were enrolled in the Northeast Academy Health Sciences pathway last year are able to complete that program through simultaneous enrollment at Classen SAS at Northeast and MetroTech Springlake. Students who were taking advantage of OKCPS’s partnership with MetroTech last year are also able to continue their course of study there as well.
Students from across the district may also consider joining the Biomedical academy currently in place at Northwest Classen High School or the Engineering academy currently available at Capitol Hill High School.
What supports are available to former Northeast Academy students and other students new to Classen SAS Middle School and High School at Northeast?
Last summer, the school administration offered a free summer bridge program for students in reading, mathematics and other program specific areas. This program provided additional supports for those students who wanted to get a head start on preparing for the academic rigor of attending Classen School of Advanced Studies. Additional supports currently available to students include before and after school tutoring programs and other in-classroom interventions.
Will there be a third pathway added to Classen SAS High School at Northeast?
Not at this time, however, the school administration is currently exploring options for expanding the academic offerings to accommodate an even wider array of advanced studies as Classen SAS High School at Northeast increases the size of our student body. Additional time will be necessary to collect and analyze data to ensure new programming aligns with Classen's mission.
Our existing umbrella programs of Visual/Performing Arts and International Baccalaureate in concert with our partnerships for concurrent enrollment and career-technology studies provide many options for students to explore their advanced studies interests in a wide variety of areas including humanities, social sciences, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) while we develop a vision and strategy for additional program options.
Our middle school program expansion to include 5th grade provides us with a fantastic opportunity to evolve our middle grades program into one that provides our talented young people with exploratory opportunities to learn about themselves, their interests, and their strengths before committing to a pathway for their high school studies.
ACCESS TO RESOURCES / INVESTMENTS
Why does it appear that Classen SAS Middle School and High School at Northeast students get more resources and experienced teachers?
There is one faculty, one staff, one administration at Classen SAS Middle School and at Classen SAS High School at Northeast. Students will have different schedules but will have access to the same set of adults and resources.
Staffing and academic resources are based on student enrollment and any funding or programs unique to a school site. For example, Classen SAS High School at Northeast received additional teaching positions to support the International Baccalaureate program, while Northeast Academy received additional Title I funds for educational purposes.
Why didn’t the board give Northeast Academy more resources?
One aspect of the Pathway to Greatness project was to identify areas in which the district’s structure was not working for students and places of strength upon which we could build. Northeast Academy had been declining in enrollment for a number of years, and that took a toll on its offerings as resources followed students. Last year, the school served fewer than 300 students in grades 6-12. At the same time, Classen SAS, just a few miles away, was limited in the number of seats available to students by the size of its building. By expanding the Classen SAS program into two campuses and offering students enrolled at Northeast Academy the opportunity to enroll, these students now have access to resources and rigorous programming that has been recognized in our city, state, and nation for excellence.
SInce the P2G vote, OKCPS has invested a large amount of bond dollars at the Classen SAS High School at Northeast. Why now?
The purpose of the Pathway to Greatness project was to think differently about how OKCPS allocates its precious resources to ensure that every student has access to quality instruction and facilities, and the approval of the plan was the beginning of this new way of doing business. Approval of the 2016 Bond authorization provided OKCPS with the opportunity to use funding for the maintenance/renovation projects to support P2G. Also, the recent completion of almost 100% of all defined projects in the 2007 Bond Fund enabled the DIstrict to use the remaining funds to support like projects that support students and enhance the instructional environment at schools. The demand for the programs offered by the former combined Classen SAS High School and Middle School has exceeded our capacity for enrollment for many years. Now that P2G has created an opportunity to expand these programs, we are investing some of these resources to support the expanded programs.
ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS / STUDENT REPRESENTATION
Were students who attended Northeast last year able to stay?
OKCPS is staying true to our Guiding Principles, one of which was to build on what is working, by expanding the capacity of our successful application schools. We are also pleased that now our families will have access to one of these choice options in all areas of our District.
All students who were enrolled at Northeast Academy for the 2018-19 school year were provided the opportunity to enroll at Classen SAS MS or Classen SAS High School at Northeast without any additional application requirements.
The application process for the 2019-20 school year was similar to years’ past, featuring a holistic review of students’ readiness to be successful in the school’s course of study; however, adjustments were made to applications for rising 5th grade students to ensure they are age-appropriate, the timeline was reopened in early March, and the deadlines were extended.
Individual students’ interests, talents, and strengths were considered to schedule former Northeast Academy students in the Visual and Performing Arts and International Baccalaureate programs at Classen SAS, including extending opportunities for Northeast students to audition for entry into advanced levels of the performing arts programs. Additionally, administration explored options to provide 11th and 12th grade students with access to a rigorous curriculum through International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment courses due to insufficient time available for these students to earn the IB diploma.
How is OKCPS working to ensure students who attended Northeast Academy last year are still able to have their voices heard?
We have been purposeful from the beginning to identify ways our former Northeast Academy students can be actively involved and have a voice. Here is a list of some of those efforts:
- NE-Classen Student Leadership Collaboration: Student leaders from both schools were brought together for team building activities and to brainstorm sessions that focused on honoring both schools, as well as, setting a vision for the 19-20 SY.
- Establishment of Student Leadership Social Media Group: This strategy provided opportunities for student leaders to interact in an ongoing basis throughout the spring.
- CSAS Program Meetings with Students: CSAS students and program coordinators met with former Northeast students at the Northeast campus in the Spring to present and share information about Classen programs. This question/answer session allowed NEA students to ask questions and share thoughts about their interest in both CSAS and NEA programs.
- CSAS Pop Up Event: Existing NEA programs were invited to set up tables for students during the district’s Open House event last Spring to share information about NEA- specific programs that would be in place for the 19-20 SY.
- Student Course Enrollment Event: This event allowed NEA students & families to participate in individual meetings with counseling and administrative staff. Students were able to ask questions and share thoughts/concerns about their courses for the 19-20 SY.
- Student Leadership Meetings throughout the Summer: Principal McAdoo held multiple meetings with students leaders from both NEA and CSAS to discuss plans for activities and programs that would honor both schools.
- Student Leadership Presentation to Staff: Principal McAdoo met with a group of student leaders to facilitate the development of a presentation to be delivered to the staff during back to school week meetings. The focus of this student presentation was:
- Academic Support
- Community Outreach
- Climate & Culture
- Informal Meetings: The Operational Leadership team meets on a weekly basis to discuss data collected from informal meetings held with students. This data is used to support the Academic Tracking System which focuses on three indicators of student success.
- Mental Health
According to school leaders, data collected from students, parents and faculty indicate that Classen SAS High School at Northeast has healthy and positive climate.
Will new students from Northeast OKC and other neighborhoods be able to get into Classen SAS High School at Northeast?
Yes, students who apply and are accepted to Classen SAS Middle School and High School at Northeast will be able to attend. District data suggest that there are many talented students in Northeast OKC and other neighborhoods around the district who are ready to be successful in advanced studies. We encourage interested students to apply. The diversity of our current Classen SAS Middle School and High School at Northeast student body provides clear evidence that there are talented students from every part of OKCPS who are ready to take on the challenge of advanced studies.
Our district’s commitment to equity and access are reflected in new aspects of our recruitment process for Classen SAS programs. Research suggests that many talented students who would qualify to attend academically selective schools are out there, but there are often barriers to access because of a lack of information about available programs and because qualifying students from historically underrepresented groups simply do not apply. In the spring, our application school leaders visited targeted schools in order to provide parents with information about our programs and to identify and recruit promising candidates to apply.
The district will continue working this year to ensure equity and access for students in our application programs. We hope that the new bus routes and outreach to schools that have had lower application rates will improve qualified students’ ability to access our advanced studies program offerings. Over time, improvements in our elementary instructional programs built on the foundation of P2G will also provide more students the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude for success in advanced studies.
What was the application process for rising 6th through 12th graders for the 2019-20 year?
The application period for the 2019-2020 school year was extended through April 1, 2019 for students entering grades 6-12. Students in these grades followed the application process determined by school administration. Admissions were considered based upon a holistic review of students’ aptitude and ability to be successful in an advanced studies program.
We appreciate feedback from the community about the way we have previously communicated entrance criteria which stated “minimum requirements” including specific scores for tests of student aptitude. The community suggested, and we agree, that this wording can be misleading and incorrectly gave the impression that students who do not meet these test standards are not accepted. We have since clarified that this is not the case. These “minimum” scores reflect an average that is correlated with student success in the Classen SAS programs in the past, but they are NOT barriers to entrance. We often accept students who do not meet the suggested test scores, but who show promise in other ways like through their grades and teacher recommendations. We updated the wording on the application to make it clear that students who are interested in an advanced course of study will be evaluated on the basis of their whole record--most importantly, that no one element of the application disqualifies a potential student.
Research clearly shows that expanding access to academically selective schools does not mean lowering standards, and that programs like Classen SAS can be powerful engines for bringing students from a wide variety of backgrounds together and providing them with excellent academic preparation for college and careers. The district and school leadership teams will continue to refine and improve our methods to provide information and recruit students from underrepresented elementary schools to deepen our historical commitment to equity and access.
What was the application process for rising 5th graders?
The Classen SAS Middle School used a streamlined, age-appropriate application process that involves a holistic review of each individual student’s potential to ensure all accepted candidates are able to experience success in advanced studies courses.
The following criteria are considered when selecting rising 5th grade students for admission to the Classen School of Advanced Studies Middle School:
- 4th Grade Comprehensive Snapshot in Mathematics and English/Language Arts
- 3rd Grade State Assessments in Mathematics and English/Language Arts
- Excellent Student Attendance
- Positive Teacher Recommendations
- Academic Performance demonstrated on school report card (4th grade: 1st semester and 3rd quarter)
- Gifted and Talented Status: Students will receive bonus points for meeting this requirement
The process of building the incoming 5th grade class also involves a step, which Classen has used for a number of years, in which student applications are reviewed within geographical areas of the district and analyzed to identify a percentage of top students from each of these areas. Each year, student acceptance data are analyzed to ensure a fair percentage of students are accepted from the various communities of the district. This process has made Classen SAS one of the most diverse schools in OKCPS, and we hope that our new application process for incoming 5th graders will increase access and equity while maintaining our high standards of academic excellence.
Is there a test score requirement for entrance into Classen SAS?
High academic standards are the hallmark of our advanced studies programs, but there is no single criterion that we use to define that. We appreciate feedback from the community about the way we have previously communicated entrance criteria which stated “minimum requirements” including specific scores for tests of student aptitude. The community is right that this wording gives the impression that no students are accepted who do not meet these standards, and we need to clarify that this is not the case. These “minimum” scores reflect an average that is correlated with student success in our SAS programs, but they are NOT strict barriers to entrance. We often accept students who do not meet the suggested test scores, but who show promise in other ways like through their grades and teacher recommendations. We updated the wording on the application to make it clear that students who are interested in an advanced course of study will be evaluated on the basis of their whole record--no one element of the application disqualifies a potential SAS student. That said, Classen SAS is not equipped to meet the needs of students who require substantial academic remediation at this time, and the expansion of Classen SAS is intended to provide access to the many students who qualify and currently are not able to attend without compromising the integrity of our academic programs or putting incoming students at risk of not completing high school graduation requirements.
What are you doing to provide Remediation to students at Classen SAS High School at Northeast?
OKCPS provided free remediation this summer for all Classen SAS High School at Northeast students. Five students participated and families provided rave reviews about the quality of the program. Since then, OKCPS has hired two full time staff members to provide remediation for current students.
What is the demographic make-up of Classen SAS High School last year vs. Classen SAS HS at Northeast this year?
2018-19 School Year
2019-20 School Year
Percentage Point Change
Native American 3.3
Native American 2.5
Mixed Race 5.3
Mixed Race 6.4
2018-19 School Year
2019-20 School Year
Percentage Point Change
This summer, OKCPS Board Member Charles Henry filed a lawsuit in state court alleging that OKCPS did not comply with the Board Policy D-08 when renaming Northeast Academy to Classen SAS High School at Northeast as part of the P2G initiative. Then, in August, he voluntarily dismissed his case. What is the district’s response these legal actions?
OKCPS strongly disputes the allegation that our Board of Education did not fully comply with OKCPS Board Policy D-08 with respect to the renaming of Northeast Academy to Classen SAS High School as it relates to the Pathway To Greatness. Our policy clearly states that the sole responsibility for naming facilities rests with the Board, and this was accomplished through a unanimous vote of the Board during a public meeting on March 4, 2019.
Prior to that vote, the name of the school was discussed in detail at the public board meeting; and following that discussion, all eight board members unanimously voted to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation to name the school Classen SAS High School at Northeast.