Photo caption: Kristen Miles, 3rd and 2nd grade teacher, instructs her classroom at Daposka Ahnkodapi in Pawhuska. CODY HAMMER/Osage News
With a glowing review in hand, Daposka Ahnkodapi is one step closer to earning full accreditation.
Stephan Sargent, an education professor at Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow, made an early October pre-site visit on behalf of Advance Ed, a third party entity that conducts private school accreditation studies. In a written statement, he lauded the school’s faculty, staff and students and said the school is ready to take the next step towards full accreditation.
“I am exceptionally impressed by the work of the Daposka Ahnkodapi School,” he wrote. “The initiative of the Osage Nation to revitalize the Osage language together with a world-class education is evident in this exceptional school. The immersion approach, an outstanding superintendent, excellent faculty/staff, and impressive resources all combine to make the school a ‘jewel’ of the Osage Nation.
“At this point, the school community is well ready to begin the self-study process of AdvancED Accreditation, which will form the basis for their continued improvement journey and subsequent accreditation.”
With that recommendation, the school could potentially earn full accreditation as early as fall 2020. The remainder of the year will be spent doing a self-study. In addition to documenting everything the school is doing to meet the state’s academic standards, Daposka Ahnkodapi faculty and staff will include the school’s plans for the future, including adding a fourth grade class in 2020-2021 and eventually getting its own building.
As part of the effort to earn accreditation, the school has started incorporating academic benchmarks to document the students’ progress, including issuing report cards. To further bolster its case for accreditation, all of the school’s teachers are certified and are working the Oklahoma Department of Education’s academic standards into the lesson plans.
“Our mission remains the same: teaching Osage language and culture,” Superintendent Patrick Martin said. “That hasn’t changed.”
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.
When and if the school earns full accreditation, there are no plans to change its tuition structure to reflect its new status. The school increased its tuition rates to $500 per child per month for the 2019-2020 school year, but still offers reduced rates through participation in language and culture classes.
“It could fluctuate like it did this year,” Martin said. “Our plan is to leave it as is, though. Just because we get accredited does not automatically mean we will raise or lower it.”