Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways

student doing science  student doing mechanics  students playing instruments

A student’s high school experience sets them up for success - it is the beginning of their story. The experience should allow students to gain skills that will be practical in any career field, while exploring career interests in fun and engaging ways.

The Omaha Public Schools is excited to announce the evolution of high school programming in our district. Starting in the Fall of 2021, Omaha Public Schools will begin to roll out The Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways.

The Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways comes after an evaluation and refocus of current programming. It builds on what has been working well and where we can grow. It ensures students gain real-world career experience while maintaining the foundation of core classes and access to advanced academics, fine arts and electives

Student Focused Plan

In February 2020, Omaha Public Schools launched the Strategic Plan of Action Powered by Foresight. Through work with community members, future labs encouraged OPS staff and community members to think about what’s next for Omaha Public Schools and brainstorm what’s needed to prepare students for their futures throughout the next five to 20 years. The result was the Portrait of a Graduate.

The Portrait of a Graduate outlines the skills essential for students beyond high school to be successful in college, career and life.

Mastery of these skills will be beneficial for any path a student may take after graduation. As our district reviewed our portfolio of program options, the goal was to ensure that students could explore career interests while learning these foundational skills.

Throughout the process, feedback and input from our community was essential to the academy and pathway plan development. Local business leaders provided input on necessary job skills, and future job trends, while high school leadership teams helped to determine what programs best fit the needs of their school community. More than 2,100 parents, students, staff and business leaders were able to provide input on perceptions of the district’s current programming and what they would like to see in the future.

Academies and Pathways

After the evaluation and input from our community, our district developed the Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways. Students in both academies and pathways take their core classes (English, math, social studies and science) along with career-focused classes, advanced placement classes and electives. Student choices are what determine the differences in high school experience. To understand the options, we have provided a definition below:

  • Academies are smaller learning communities with a career focus. Groups of students with a similar career interest take classes together. Career-focused classes proceed from one to the next in a series.
  • Pathways are a series of four or more classes focused on a group of related careers, or cluster. Students in a pathway take classes with a wide range of other students across career interests.

Freshman Academy

Our District recognizes the important transition from middle school to high school. As all students enter their high school journey, they will participate in Freshman Academy. They will explore careers and focus on skills for success in high school and beyond. During their freshman year, students will select an academy or a pathway at their school.

We understand that not all students know what they want to do in the future, and that is ok. This evolution of programming gives students the opportunity to explore potential career fields while gaining skills that will be beneficial in their future and lead to high skill, high wage and in-demand jobs. In the Academies and Pathways, some students will find their passion, while others may find something they thought they liked is really not for them. Either way students will learn transferable skills that will help them succeed, no matter their future path. An advantage of being able to explore these opportunities in high school is there isn’t the financial impact to a family there is with college.

Selecting an Academy or Pathway

During their freshman year, students will select an academy or a pathway at their school. Students in both academies and pathways take their core classes (English, math, social studies and science) along with career-focused classes and electives. Student choices are what determine the differences in high school experience. The academy and pathway names are meant to group together similar career fields. For example: Leadership Academy at Burke High will include courses in management, financial planning and insurance, data analytics, teaching and marketing.

Advanced Academics

In both academies and pathways, students will have fun, engaging and hands-on learning opportunities. No matter which academy or pathway a student selects, they will have access to advanced academic courses through a variety of programs that include advanced placement, Cambridge, International Baccalaureate or Dual Enrollment. The specific offerings will be based on their high school.

Elective Courses

Our District believes it is important for students to have a well-rounded education. All students will continue to have access to a variety of electives that include the performing and fine arts, world languages, JRTOC and other extra-curricular activities. 

Block Scheduling

All high schools will transition to block scheduling. We currently have five of our seven high schools on a block schedule. By moving all schools to block scheduling it allows students the opportunity to have more in-depth learning in a single class, versus being broken up into multiple classes. An example is being able to complete a science experiment in one class versus setting up, working through an experiment and cleaning up on multiple days. Students are able to engage deeper with the course work and collaborate with their teacher and classmates. There is also less transition time between classes which allows for more learning time. In addition, it creates consistency across the district. This is beneficial for our teachers as they collaborate and also for our students who may move from one school to the other.

Student Outcomes

Everything we do in Omaha Public Schools is for the benefit of our students. Research shows that students in Nebraska who complete three or more courses in a career and technical education sequence graduate at an average rate of 10% higher than those who do not participate. For Omaha Public Schools, the average rate is 11% higher. This is true regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity or gender. Staff will continue to monitor student data to ensure student success.

Timeline

The plan will rollout over the next four years. Freshman Academy will begin in fall 2021. Each year will build upon the previous until the program is completely rolled out in the 2024-25 school year. 

student at computer  student at aircraft simulator  student at computer

Common Student Experiences in OPS College and Career Academies and Pathways

  • All students will experience a Freshman Academy and will engage in conversations with teachers and school counselors in selecting a program of study or pathway of interest without qualification criteria.
  • World Language, as well as Performing and Fine Arts opportunities will be accessible to all students, no matter what high school they choose.
  • During their high school career, all students will engage in one virtual course.
  • All students will have opportunities in Advanced Academics that could include: Cambridge, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment
  • All students will experience a college and career continuum (courses and experiences become more focused as a student progresses through their education).
  • Students will experience STEM education.
  • Students will experience deeper learning by maximizing their time and content exploration/mastery with consistent implementation of block scheduling across the district.
School Academy / Pathway Options
Benson
  • Freshman Academy
  • Health Professions Academy
    • Medical and Therapeutic Services
    • Human Performance
    • Teaching as a Profession/Behavioral Health
  • Design and Construction Academy
    • Architecture Design
    • Digital Design
    • Construction Technology
  • Business and Entrepreneurship Academy
    • Business Management
    • Entrepreneurship
  • Cambridge
Bryan
  • Freshman Academy
  • Design and Construction Academy 
    • Construction 
    • Architectural Design
    • Interior Design
  • Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Academy
    • International Business, Marketing, and Management
    • Innovative Technology
    • Logistics
  • Teaching and Leadership Academy 
    • Teaching as a Profession
  • Urban Agriculture Academy
    • Food Science
    • Agriculture Business
    • Natural Resources Management and Sciences 
    • Plant and Animal Science
  • Cambridge
Burke
  • Freshman Academy
  • Air and Space Academy
    • Flight
    • Aircraft Mechanics
    • Aerospace Engineering
  • Leadership Academy
    • Management
    • Financial Planning and Insurance
    • Data Analytics
    • Teaching as a Profession
    • Marketing
  • Communications Academy
    • Web and Digital Design 
    • Audio Video Production 
    • Journalism
Central
  • Freshman Academy
  • Arts
    • Band
    • Orchestra
    • Choir
    • Drama
    • Drawing and Painting
    • Sculpture/Pottery
    • Stagecraft 
    • Fashion and Costume Design
    • Digital Arts Design
  • Leadership
    • Entrepreneur and Virtual Enterprise 
    • Teaching as a Profession
    • JROTC
    • Marketing - Entertainment and Sports Marketing 
    • Audio Video Production
    • Journalism
    • International Baccalaureate Career Pathway 
  • International Baccalaureate
North
  • Freshman Academy
  • Engineering and Design Academy
    • PLTW Engineering
    • Robotics
    • Precision Machining
    • Drafting and Design
  • Science and Research Academy
    • Medical Research
    • PLTW Biomedical
    • Forensic Sciences
    • Teaching as a Profession
  • Computer Science and Technology Academy
    • Computer Networking
    • Cybersecurity and Coding
    • PLTW Computer Science
    • Audio Video Production 
Northwest
  • Freshman Academy
  • Public and Community Service
    • Pre-Law (local, national, and international)
    • Forensic Science/Criminal Justice (911)
    • Fire Science
    • Public Works/Environmental Science 
    • Community Health
    • Emergency Medical Technician
    • Teaching as a Profession  
    • Energy Systems Technology
    • Cybersecurity
    • Audio Video Production
  • Early College Program
South
  • Freshmen Academy
  • Dual Language
  • Performing and Visual Arts
    • Dance
    • Drama
    • Stagecraft
    • Vocal Music
    • Instrumental Music- Band
    • Instrumental Music - Guitar
    • Instrumental Music - Piano
    • Instrumental Music - Orchestra
    • Drawing and Painting
    • Pottery
    • Fashion and Costume Design
    • Teaching as a Profession
  • Technology and Media Arts
    • Audio Video Production
    • Digital Design
    • Web Design
    • Computer Science
    • Journalism
  • Cambridge
New - 156 and IDA School
  • Freshmen Academy
  • Health
    • Biotechnology / Medical Research
    • Human Performance Therapeutic Services
    • Pharmacy Technician 
  • Sustainability
    • Civil and Community Engineering
    • Alternative Fuels Technology
  • Business
    • Business Management and Insurance 
    • Entrepreneurship and Virtual Enterprise
    • Teaching as a Profession
New - 60th and L School
  • Freshmen Academy
  • SMART Technology 
    • Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Nanotechnology 
    • Mechatronics
    • Computer Engineering
    • Automation and Robotics
    • Cybersecurity
    • Information Technology
  • Health & Education
    • Behavioral Health and Behavioral Psychology
    • Teaching as a Profession
  • Cambridge

 

Questions and Answers

What is the difference between an academy and a pathway? 
During their Freshman year, students will select an academy or a pathway at their school. Students in both academies and pathways take their core classes (English, math, social studies and science) along with career-focused classes and electives. Student choices are what determine the differences in high school experience. To understand the options, we have provided a definition below:

  • Academies are a small learning community with a career focus. Groups of students with a similar career interest take classes together. Career-focused classes proceed from one to the next in a series. 
  • Pathways are a series of four or more classes focused on a group of related careers, or cluster. Students in a pathway take classes with a wide range of other students across career interests. 

When does the Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways launch? 
The Omaha Public Schools College & Career Academies and Pathways will begin rolling out in the fall of 2021 with a Freshman Academy at all seven high schools. Our district will build upon academy and pathway offerings each year, for the following three years. The full plan will be in place by Fall 2024.  

What is Freshman Academy?
Our district recognizes the important transition from middle school to high school. As all OPS students enter their high school journey, they will participate in Freshman Academy. They will explore careers and focus on skills for success in high school and beyond. Students will participate in a freshman seminar course, career exploration and college experiences prior to choosing an academy or pathway in the spring of their freshman year. 

Will students have access to electives like performing and fine arts, JROTC and world languages? 
Yes! Our District believes it is important for students to have a well-rounded education. All students will continue to have access to a variety of electives that include the performing and fine arts, world languages, JRTOC and other extra-curricular activities. 

Will students be able to participate in extra-curricular activities? 
Yes! Omaha Public Schools believes in the importance of a well-rounded education. Students will still have access to extra-curricular activities. New clubs or organizations may also be available to align with academies and pathways. 

Will students continue to have access to students support services for special education and English Learners? 
Yes! Students will continue to have access to support services that enhance their academic experience. 

Will students be able to change their academy or pathway? 
School counselors will be available to talk with students who feel the need to change their academy or pathway. They will help students determine the best options. Students may change their academy/pathway one time. Academies and pathways are designed for students to learn the Portrait of a Graduate skills that will be essential beyond high school. Since those skills are transferable from one career to another, students won’t necessarily need to change their academy or pathway. In addition, we want to ensure students have enough coursework in their academy and pathway to complete their senior capstone successfully. 

What is the senior capstone project? 
The senior capstone project will be a culminating activity that students complete as part of their academy or pathway experience. The project will be designed to pull from what students learned in their career academy or pathway. The project will be an opportunity for students to highlight what they have learned and present their mastery of the Portrait of a Graduate skills.