Photo caption: Daposka Ahnkodapi Wakonze Kristen Miles, Osage, instructs 2nd and 3rd graders during a group activity on Sept. 11. CODY HAMMER/Osage News
It may be under new leadership, but the goal is still there for Osage Nation’s immersion school: full accreditation.
Patrick Martin, the superintendent of Daposka Ahnkondapi, confirmed that the school is still making progress towards accreditation as a private school.
“We are focusing on accreditation,” he said, addressing Osage Congress’ Education Committee. “That will be my main focus this year. That would be the main focus. To do that, everything has to be in order. There has to be academic progress every day. Teachers have to be certified, following curriculum and giving grades.
“There’s a lot to do and every day I’m up there, something new comes up. It is exciting but challenging to get all of these things to mesh. There is still a lot of work to do academically.”
Accreditation is a process by which individual schools or entire school districts are certified as achieving minimum standards of quality. Those exact standards vary by state but guarantee that students are able to transfer to another institution.
The process can take up to four years. A representative from AdvancEd, a third-party entity that conducts private school accreditation studies, is scheduled to conduct a site pre-visit on Sept. 30 to assess the school’s progress and offer feedback on what steps still need to be taken.
Currently, the school has 52 students enrolled through the third grade, with a waiting list.
Martin said there are no plans at this time to pursue accreditation as a public charter school rather than as a private school. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are eligible to receive funding through the Oklahoma Department of Education’s aid formula, so the tribe would not necessarily be the only source of funding for an Osage charter school.
Accreditation as a private school would potentially make the school eligible to participate in two state-run scholarship programs: the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship, which provides tuition scholarships for disabled students who have an individualized education plan, and the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship, which is a tax credit scholarship program for families with an income of up to 300 percent of the eligibility limit for free or reduced-price school meals.
“We are heading in the right direction,” Martin said. “We have Osage time at 8:15 every morning. Think language lessons, dances every morning with the kids. It’s really fun. We’re trying to create a good Osage environment here that’s more structured.
“The education is going to be so much better, but every school has challenges. We just have to deal with them one day at a time, but we’re on the right page.”