Photo Caption: The Osage Language Immersion School students competed in the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair and the first-grade class won first place in the group spoken language. SHANNON SHAW DUTY/Osage News
The Osage Language Immersion School hit its two-year anniversary on July 2, making it eligible to apply for private school accreditation – something the staff at the school has been working toward since day one.
The school is now a candidate for accreditation through AdvancED’s Readiness Diagnostic, a process that looks at a school’s leadership capacity, learning capacity and resource capacity, said David Webb, Headmaster for the school.
“The Immersion School has taken the critical first-steps in exerting our sovereignty and reclaiming the education of our Osage youth from a public school system that far-too-often fails Native American students,” he said. “Our mission is to provide a premier education for our Osage children through a project driven and personalized curriculum utilizing proven teaching methods, cutting-edge technology, and a secure environment.”
The accreditation for a private school is an arduous and timely one, he said. It can take anywhere from two to four years. There are currently 27 Osage children on the waiting list for the school, which integrates the Osage language and culture into its daily education plans. The school is continuing its growth by adding on a second-grade class, which will begin in the fall with a new Osage teacher, Amanda McKinley from the Grayhorse District. Beginning Aug. 13, the Kindergarten class will have eight children, the first-grade class will have 10 children, and the second-grade class will have 10 children. The school also has a four-year-old room, a 2-year-old to 3-year-old room, infants and toddlers.
“We hope to create a private school from pre-Kindergarten to 12th grade,” Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said. “A critical part of this is recognized accreditation. David Webb and the team have done a great job. Debbie Atterberry and Melvina Prather are very much engaged in long-range planning.”
The school has several milestones to meet before there is an accreditation recommendation to the Oklahoma Private School Accreditation Commission.
According to Webb, during the school’s Readiness Review, AdvancED will document and analyze the following:
- School Assurances: Policies and Procedures, Security and Crisis Management Plan, Financial Transactions, and Improvement Plan
- School Quality Factors: Clear Direction, Healthy Culture, High Expectations, Impact of Instruction, Resource Management, Efficacy of Engagement, and Fidelity of Implementation
- Executive Summary: School Description, School Purpose, and Notable Achievements
- Stakeholder Feedback Data: Climate, Inventory, Student Engagement Surveys, and Student Performance Data
“When the Readiness Review’s criteria and standards have been demonstrated by the school, AdvancED will perform an Engagement Review,” Webb said.
The Engagement Review is a process that is conducted on-site by a team of qualified and trained educational professionals to evaluate an institution’s adherence to the AdvancED Performance Standards; assess the efficacy and impact of its continuous improvement process; assess the effectiveness of the institution’s methods for quality assurance; and identify strengths deserving of commendations and provide required actions for improvement, Webb said.
Data shows that in public schools, Native American students have the lowest high school graduation rates in the country, have seen a great decline in ACT scores, have less access to high-level education courses, and many are not proficient in reading or math by the eighth grade. Webb said that is unacceptable.
“We as a strong, intelligent, caring people have the ability, and the responsibility, to offer our Osage children an elite system of education. The Immersion School is in the beginning phase of doing just that. Working with Chief Standing Bear, and other educators within the Osage Nation, the vision of the Immersion School has evolved into becoming the model for excellence in education throughout Indian Country and beyond,” Webb said. “The Osage people must construct a foundation for the present and future success of Osage children and the Nation as a whole by using methods that support language revitalization, nation building, sovereignty, and the development of accomplished young adults who will discover their talents and leave their footprint for those that follow.”