September 2023
For almost any goal in life, we’re more likely to get there as a team.
If you’re reading this, you play a role in the success of Omaha Public Schools students.
Our teachers, custodians, families and community contribute to building critical thinkers, collaborators, communicators, innovators, civic and global contributors, and resilient achievers. Each is an attribute in our Portrait of a Graduate.
At our Board of Education workshop Monday night, we dug into how we measure a student’s growth and use that data to improve. Improve teaching for our students, improve our schools and improve as one district.
Activities or tests before, during and after learning help celebrate wins and rally support where needed. Our School Improvement staff explained the importance this way:
“A key lever for systems improvement is aligning everyone’s behavior and decision-making to a collectively-owned vision and strategy.”
We know that by clearly defining what improvement looks like, then working together with precision, we’re much more likely to achieve the goals in our Strategic Plan of Action.
This year, from the classroom to the board room, we’ll regularly review that work. This edition of Inside OPS features two stories on improving learning for young people.
This #OPSProud Week, our commitment to learning and growth is one of countless reasons I’m proud to serve.
We’re glad you’re on the team.

Matthew Ray
Interim Superintendent
Omaha Public Schools
Celebrating Success and Focusing Lessons
How students, staff and families use classroom data to grow
Majid Aljabery and his fourth-grade classmates at Jefferson Elementary prepared for the MAP Growth Assessment by reviewing content, writing notes and taking practice tests.

“I think it is important because it shows if you are learning all the skills,” said Aljabery. “My goal is to beat my score each time.”

Students in kindergarten through ninth grade take the MAP Growth Assessment. The assessment measures academic growth in reading, mathematics and science. It helps educators identify the best approach to meet student needs and deepen classroom lessons.
“We also use this assessment as part of continuous school improvement to monitor whether or not we are meeting our goals and moving forward as a school district,” said Susanne Cramer, Omaha Public Schools chief school improvement officer. “It is also important for our work with families to understand more about how their students are succeeding.”
Students complete these tests three times a year: during the fall, winter and spring. It is an online tool that adapts to each student and their understanding of the subject at that moment. Schools can then offer students the tailored tools they need to do their best. 
“At the beginning of the year, we go over the base skills that our kids need right from the start, like reading and math,” said Jennifer Schlapia, Jefferson Elementary principal. “The other thing we do is we make sure that kids are familiar with the format of testing, like what multiple-choice looks like, what a short answer looks like.”
Apart from MAP Growth, students in grades three through eight and grade 11 participate in the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System (NSCAS). The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) manages NSCAS testing statewide. The test measures grade-level standards. English learners also take the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century each spring.

These tests help our district monitor growth and support students' learning needs.

Cramer says families are an essential part of the team by making sure students get a good night's sleep, come to school prepared, and emphasize the importance of students doing their best every day at school.

School conferences, offered in the fall and spring, are a great way for families and teachers to take a closer look at each student’s assessment scores and progress in the classroom.

“This is a really important part of ensuring that each student is growing, achieving and getting what they need,” Cramer says.

Omaha Public Schools provides a parent resource kit and a family guide to MAP Growth on our website.
Advancing Instruction
How students and staff help put new curriculum materials and resources to the test
Every day at 3 p.m., first grade students in Karli Frederick’s class put their social studies books away and get ready for science. This month, they’re learning how animals eat.

“Animals need their teeth and brains to eat,” said Ka’Maya Daugherty-Watts, a student in Ms. Frederick’s class at Belvedere Elementary. “I love science; it’s my favorite subject.”

This lesson is just one piece of the elementary science materials and resources our district is field-testing. The purpose is to find more hands-on lessons for students using high-quality instructional materials.

“I think that it’s important to have engaging and interactive lessons for students because the more engaging the lessons are, the more the students want to learn,” said Frederick. “The materials have been wonderful to field test. My students are invested in what they are learning and can’t wait to learn more.”

Omaha Public Schools is advancing curriculum and instruction in the coming years at all levels, from kindergarten through high school. Curriculum updates don’t happen in one day or even in one school year. Deanna Moisset, executive director of secondary education for Omaha Public Schools, says the process takes several years.
“We are very thorough because the product we’re choosing will be in the hands of students for the next seven years,” said Moisset. “And that allows us to ensure that we are delivering on the Portrait of the Graduate while aligning with Nebraska state standards.”

First, our district selects options for materials after reviewing vendor proposals. Then, some teachers use the materials under consideration in their classrooms and provide feedback before a final adoption. Materials are available for community review, too, through public sessions that gather feedback.

Our district is implementing the new secondary science and K-12 social studies curriculum in our classrooms this year. Products for K-12 computer science as well as K-12 art are also under consideration for review this school year.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds have helped our district invest in high-quality instructional materials to upgrade and replace older resources at all grade levels. This includes elementary and high school science, secondary English language arts (ELA) and reading, and K-12 social studies. English Learning resources are also in the works alongside ELA.

“It’s critical for students’ learning that we have the highest quality instructional materials, so we're teaching with the best resources,” said Donna Dobson, executive director of elementary education for Omaha Public Schools.
To ensure that our district has a wide range of feedback on the materials, every school has at least one or two teachers actively participating in field testing in their classrooms.

“It’s important to highlight that our students and teachers are trying the materials out,” said Dobson. “We can do the initial analysis and know the materials meet state standards, but we won’t know if it’s engaging until students participate.”

Field testing for elementary science materials runs through December. Staff will present their recommendation to the Board of Education in May, and if approved, the updated materials will be ready for teachers to use in fall 2024.
Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Search moves forward with more opportunities for our staff, students and families to participate.

Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 4, our district will hold 12 community forums to gather input on our district’s strengths, opportunities, and the qualifications of an ideal future superintendent. Ten forums will be in-person, and two will be held virtually.

The second of two survey windows will open on Sept. 25. It will again be available in multiple languages. Once the survey is live, we will email a link directly to all staff, families and high school students. The link will also be posted on all school and district website homepages.

For more information, visit our website
Strive for 95: Boost Attendance with Simple Tips
September is School Attendance Awareness Month. At Omaha Public Schools, we encourage students to Strive for 95. Strive for 95 is our district’s attendance focus to ensure students and families are aware of the benefits of daily attendance.

Here are some helpful tips to support students in achieving regular attendance:

  1. Create a routine: Consistent wake-up and bedtime hours help students maintain routines.
  2. Help your student find interests in school: Exciting and engaging courses and activities help motivate students to attend class regularly.
  3. Take advantage of no-cost school meals: Get out the door faster without worrying about eating breakfast or packing lunches. All students at Omaha Public Schools receive meals at no cost.
  4. Stay connected with your student’s school: Schools regularly share important messages with families via email, text and phone. Make sure your contact information is up to date so you receive all messages.
Graduation Dates Set for Omaha Public Schools Class of 2024
We can’t wait to celebrate our graduates!

Commencement ceremonies for our comprehensive high schools will take place May 21-23, 2024, at Baxter Arena.

Visit our website to find the full schedule and other information under the announcements section on the main page.
#OPSProud Week Showcases Joy in Omaha Public Schools
In September, our district shines a spotlight on the many things that make Omaha Public Schools a great place to learn and work.

We celebrated #OPSProud Week Sept. 11-15. This week is set aside each year to showcase pride and joy within our school district community. It began in 2017 through a district goal to lift up student and staff achievements and share our district’s story more broadly.

Click the image below or visit the Omaha Public Schools YouTube channel to learn more about why our staff, students and families are #OPSProud.
Safe2Help Nebraska Hotline

Safety is our top priority at Omaha Public Schools. There are resources in our district and community to support students and staff, including the Safe2Help Nebraska Hotline.
Safe2Help Nebraska is a confidential and anonymous hotline for students, families, staff or community members to report concerns.
If you or someone you know needs support or would like to report a safety concern, Safe2Help Nebraska Hotline is available 24/7 at (531) 299-SAFE. The app is installed on every Omaha Public Schools iPad, providing easy and immediate access.
Check out this month's Community Opportunities. Our Community Opportunities section provides a destination for youth and family events.

Omaha Public Schools does not endorse any business, product or service. 
… to Dario Gudino-Garcia of Bryan High for being named University of Nebraska Omaha’s Dual Enrollment Instructor of the Year.

… to Patrick Ryan of Burke High for becoming University of Nebraska Omaha’s Dual Enrollment Educator of the Year.

… to North High’s Student Council for placing third in a video competition at the National Student Council Vision Conference.

… to Danielle Laurion of South High for being awarded the K-12 Dance Educator Award by the National Dance Society.

… to host Mike Hogan and the KIOS-FM staff for earning a Gold Award for the Best In-Depth Investigative Story or Series from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association.

… to Crestridge Elementary for logging the most minutes in our Summer Reading Challenge, and to all Omaha Public Schools elementary students for reading a total of more than three million minutes.
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Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.