If Ossining High kids think standardized testing is tough, wait until they hear what their teachers and administrators endured to become one of only 20 public schools across 26 states—and the Hudson Valley’s lone selection—to be named a National Education Policy Center (NEPC) 2016 School of Opportunity. The Schools of Opportunity Project‘s aim is to help narrow so-called “achievement gaps” (i.e. the differences in student performance driven by differences in classroom opportunities) by acknowledging schools that, like Ossining, offer innovative programs that embrace new teaching methods and strive to provide every student with the tools to excel.
The University of Colorado Boulder-based NEPC put together a team of 40 researchers, teachers, and other education officials who evaluated schools on criteria including the ability to create and maintain a healthy school culture, wise use of technology, and ability to address major health issues. And to understand why Ossining High was among this year’s dozen silver-medal recipients (the closest regional facility to be awarded with a gold was South Side High School in Rockville Centre on Long Island), one only needs to cite their curriculum for students with learning disabilities, which allows more than 83 percent of such students to thrive in mainstream classes and extra-curricular activities. Or their language-minority program, which helps students overcoming a language barrier to fully participative alongside their English-speaking peers.
Though mostly, these commendations should come as no surprise given how enthusiastic Ossining Union Free School District faculty were to start this fall semester, as evidenced in this viral video they uploaded to YouTube. And now, that same faculty has another reason to sing “Don’t Stop Believin‘” with authority.