When compared to other large urban districts across the country, the Omaha Public Schools District is a strong and improving system. OPS has been recognized by national organizations for innovation and overall performance. While the district and students in attendance face similar struggles and challenges as other urban districts, measurable and incremental academic progress has been made during the past seven to ten years. OPS is responsible for educating over 51,000 students, with an overall 74% poverty rate and over 100 languages spoken.
The good news is that gaps between students are closing and overall performance continues to improve. A comprehensive review of data from the Nebraska Department of Education shows OPS performing at the same level or better than other schools districts when poverty rates are considered. Challenges still remain. Gaps still exist, but OPS and community partners are collaborating, aligning efforts and targeted strategic reforms and investments to accelerate the pace of growth and improvements.
Omaha Public Schools (OPS) has implemented numerous programs, initiatives and efforts to improve academic performance and outcomes throughout the years. Community-based organizations, churches and faith-based groups, mentoring agencies, foundations, businesses and most importantly, parents and community members, have worked alongside the district to move things forward. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals are working to ensure more students are achieving success.
OPS has created and implemented the following: an action plan for instruction; expanded investments in early childhood including all-day kindergarten; approved a strategic plan with specific goals and benchmarks; gained support for the largest school improvement bond in history; hired four executive directors to partner with principals; developed a principal leadership institute; extended time available for teaching; created the office of equity and diversity; designed a new approach to family and community engagement; funded an office of economic inclusion; and enhanced professional development opportunities for teachers and other staff.
New policies have been created and adopted in response to a comprehensive needs assessment.
As a result of these significant efforts, important initiatives have been launched to specifically focus on the success of all students. Working collectively with many partners, the district is moving forward on a number of fronts. The most recent reports show measurable progress is being made in key areas. Over the past 10 years, graduation rates have improved, reading and math scores have increased, college entrance and graduation numbers have increased, and attendance rates have improved. Gaps among racial and ethnic groups are closing.
Yet, the district, teachers, parents, students, and community are far from satisfied. The goal moving forward is to accelerate progress in all of these areas with an even greater sense of urgency. Our students are incredibly brilliant, gifted and talented.
Collectively, we must do everything possible to help them reach their full potential. Together, we can make this happen. With this in mind, OPS and community partners are focused on increasing learning supports and academic rigor in Middle and High School. In addition, the district is consistently working to increase the number of students engaged in Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, Magnet Schools and Career Education classes. Through the years, OPS has created a wide array of opportunities for students and parents to maximize their high school years. Please see page 30 for the OPS Sponsorship Profile.