- Benson West Elementary
More Advanced Academics for our Students
Benson student Bunny Galindo is making the most of high school by taking three AP courses this semester of her junior year along with her other classwork.
“It’s a good challenge compared to regular classes, and it offers you college credit,” she said.
Now, students looking for advanced academics have more opportunities within Omaha Public Schools, and it’s even easier for them to take part.
Omaha Public Schools has announced that it will cover all tuition and fees for students to enroll in Dual Enrollment courses. Our district will also cover fees to take Advanced Placement (AP) tests in May 2023.
“I feel good,” Benson AP student Saraí Gomez-Ornelas said. “My mom doesn’t need to pay those expenses. She works 7 to 10 at a hard job. It will be easier for her and our family.”
Federal ESSER funds will cover expenses for the 2022-23 school year. Funds are allocated for this program for two years, until ESSER funds expire in Sept. 2024.
“The funding allows all students to earn college credits while attending high school if they choose,” Teaching and Learning Consultant Beth Maloney, Ed.D. said. “Cost for these opportunities will no longer be a factor for students as they decide whether to take advanced courses.”
Advanced Placement allows students to earn college-level credit while taking certain courses in their school. Approximately 3,000 Omaha Public Schools students take AP courses each year. After each course, students take a test to earn college credit. Our district also held an AP Summer Symposium to prepare students for success in AP courses.
Dual Enrollment allows students to take college-level courses and earn credits while still in high school. Omaha Public Schools partners with Metropolitan Community College, the University of Nebraska Omaha and Midland University for Dual Enrollment classes. More than 1,000 students take part each year.
“Many Omaha Public Schools students enter college with a full semester or more of credit,” Maloney said. “This allows them to take other classes that interest them, earn a second major or a minor, or graduate college early and enter the workforce. Our students are saving time and money.”
Between Dual Enrollment and AP, Omaha Public Schools high school students earned 65,657 college credits in the past five years. All district high schools offer both programs.
Two high schools are also launching the AP Capstone Program as part of the College & Career Academies and Pathways. The Capstone program is available at approximately 2,000 schools worldwide and includes two yearlong courses, AP Seminar and AP Research. North High began offering AP Seminar in fall 2022 and Westview High will debut the program in fall 2023. The AP Capstone Program has also been available at Burke High for the past four years.
“The AP Capstone Diploma or Certificate prepares our students for the rigors of any college program or career opportunity. Our students are highly competitive in the college application process and more prepared to tackle difficult courses from day one,” Maloney said.
Looking forward, even more advanced academic options are in the works. In the 2023-24 school year, Benson, Bryan, Buena Vista and South Highs will debut the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma, an international curriculum designed in partnership with the University of Cambridge in England. Northwest High will begin Early College, a four-year program that allows students to earn an associate's degree from Metropolitan Community College. Central High already participates in the International Baccalaureate program.
“Knowing that every student in Omaha Public Schools has access to an Advanced Academic Diploma Program makes me so happy,” Teaching and Learning Consultant Jane Luethge said. “As an employee and a parent, I am thrilled that we are truly expanding access and elevating expectations for our kids. Every high school is unique in its offerings, but the skills are transferable in life.”