State Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal and Senator Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, joined the Orcas Island School Board, administrators and staff for lunch and a presentation on the current and future status of the OASIS program.
OASIS is an alternative learning experience school in the Orcas Island School District. In a Power Point presentation, OASIS Principal Becky Bell talked about the unique qualities of the students in the program and presented highlights from this past June’s graduation. The k-12 school has students on Orcas and throughout the state. The enrollment ranges around 400, with about 70 in grades 9-12 and 320-330 k-8. There are 23 part-time and full-time teachers working in the school.
What is distinctive about OASIS is the individualized education of its students. Each child has a learning plan. While the learning plan is specific to each child, the curriculum must be culled from a school board-approved list. Teachers Bob Dash and Jill Sherman, who teach OASIS 9-12, answered questions by Reykdal in regard to the use of online courses. Reykdal wondered whether they used the “library” of online classes curated by the Office of Superintendent of Public School. Both Dash and Sherman said they rarely utilize it, and more often refer students to online aggregators like APEX. Teacher Bruce Orchid (OASIS k-8) said he sometimes uses the OSPI site for course ideas.
Reykdal also questioned Bell about OASIS’ use of community-based instruction. Parents use such instruction in their local communities, especially for classes like art and physical education. Reykdal expressed concern about the number of OASIS CBI providers. Bell said that OASIS has reduced the number from over 100 to around 20 this year. He said that was a good step, but there needed to be further work in a few areas. Reykdal wants to clarify liability responsibility in paperwork and ensure that the district is vetting CBI providers thoroughly. He said OSPI would work with the district on CBIs, but that he had a responsibility to guarantee the proper use of state funding.
Bell finished her presentation with a blank screen on which was written: “The Future of OASIS.”
“We are at a point to be innovative. I was an ALE teacher before coming to Orcas. But this program is like nothing I’ve seen – in Washington or California. Who knew this school was doing such amazing stuff. We are ready to go,” she said.
After lunch, Reykdal toured the campus with high school seniors McCabe Webb and Journey Howden and fifth grader Kristian Freeman. He also met with OASIS teachers in their classrooms.