Friday, October 31, 2014

Enrollment process has begun for the Owensboro Innovation Academy

The Owensboro Innovation Academy will become a reality in Fall 2015 and the enrollment process has begun for Owensboro Public School students as well as for partner districts including Daviess, Hancock and McLean counties.  In October, guidance counselors in the partnering school districts began presenting information about the new academy to middle school students and parents, response has been very positive.  Online registration numbers have already reached 250 students.  

The Owensboro Innovation Academy will be a small stand-alone high school that uses hands-on project-based learning, with an emphasis on technical and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum. Students will be geared toward college readiness. Programs are aligned to degrees at the Owensboro Community & Technical College. Opening in 2015, the school is affiliated with the New Tech Network, a nationwide consortium of 134 schools in 23 states. Students graduate with a Kentucky high school diploma.

The small size promotes a positive culture of trust, respect, and responsibility.  Students have exceptional ownership of their learning experience and environment.  This “hands-on” approach is at the heart of the classroom at the Innovation Academy. Students collaborate on projects that require critical thinking and communication. By making learning relevant in this way, student engagement is high. The smart use of technology supports the innovative approach to instruction and culture.  All classrooms have a 1-to-1 computer/student ratio.  With Web access and the latest in collaborative learning technology, every student becomes a self-directed learner. 

Every Innovation Academy student must choose a postsecondary pathway that engages him/her in a career-oriented technical program or a college-learning pathway.   The following pathways are available to students in the Innovation Academy:
·    Computer Information Technology Pathway
·    Life Sciences, Bio-Medical Pathway
·    Industrial Technology Pathway
·    Entrepreneurship and Innovation Pathway
·    Early College Pathway

The Owensboro Innovation Academy is part of the Owensboro Public School District, but is also part of a consortium that includes Daviess County Public Schools, Hancock County Public Schools, McLean County Public Schools, colleges and universities, and the business community led by the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corporation.  Enrollment in the school is open to students from all participating school districts.  The Innovation Academy is possible because of support from the Kentucky Department of Education’s District of Innovation program and the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro.

New Tech Network (NTN) is a non-profit organization that helps high school students gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college, and the careers of tomorrow. It works nationwide with 134 schools in 23 states and Australia to provide services and support that enable schools to implement innovative high schools that promote deeper learning.  The Owensboro Innovation Academy is the first New Tech school in Kentucky. New Tech schools create a rigorous and engaging high school experience that features project-based learning, use of technology, and a positive empowering school culture. Learn more at the NTN website:

Frequently asked questions include:

When do students enter the Innovation Academy?  In 2015-16, the academy will begin accepting 9th grade students who will attend through high school graduation.

What is the cost to the student?  There is no cost except for student fees, which is similar to all local high schools.

Where will the campus be located?  The location of the Innovation Academy is in the planning stages and will be announced as soon as possible.  It is expected be at an independent site not on an existing school campus.

Will the student receive a diploma from his or her home school?  Yes, all Innovation Academy students will be enrolled at their home high schools in conjunction with Innovation Academy enrollment.  Each student will receive a diploma from his/her home high school.

Can Innovation Academy students participate in athletics, band, and other extra-curricular activities? 
Yes, the Innovation Academy will have some student organizations and extra-curricular activities.  Students also have the option to participate in athletics, band, or other activities with their home high schools.

Will students attend any classes at their home high schools?  Students will spend the vast majority of their time at the Innovation Academy; however, students are permitted to attend courses at their home high school that are not offered at the Innovation Academy. 

What calendar and schedule will Innovation Academy follow?  The Innovation Academy will operate on the Owensboro Public Schools’ schedule and calendar, including cancellation due to inclement weather.

Will transportation be provided to the Innovation Academy?  Yes, school districts involved in the partnership will provide transportation to Innovation Academy. The only exception to this would be due to inclement weather when the Innovation Academy has classes and the student’s home district does not. 

            Students and parents may contact Owensboro Public Schools’ College and Career Counselor Beth Benjamin at, (270) 686-1110 or their school counselor for more information. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

First round of iGrants awarded to five schools

The Owensboro Public Schools awarded the first round of Innovation Grants to five schools for projects that reflect the district mission statement of engaging students with innovative teaching and

Total grant awards for the first round is $39,362.  The following grantees will be recognized and honored at the October Board of Education meeting on Thursday, October 23:

Newton Parrish Elementary- $9,600 for a engineering and computer coding program that incorporates technology and math skills along with Lego kits used to incorporate new engineering standards that are part of the Common Core Science Standards.

Sutton Elementary- $4,596 for Lego robots to start a First Lego League team for design engineering projects to be used for the Student Technology Leadership Program and their "Sharpen the Saw" activities.

Estes- $9,286 for a leadership development program modeled after the Emerge Leadership Owensboro program intended to promote student engagement in the community with the ultimate goal of developing more first generation college graduates.

Owensboro High School- $10,880 for an effort to digitize the mathematics classroom and enhance the already existing one-to-one computer program for mathematics instruction.

Owensboro Middle School South Campus- $5,000 for the Grow Owensboro project which will create a real world connection to science  and ecosystems through the creation of hydroponics and "grow walls" to extend the growing season year-round.

The grants were chosen from 14 total applicants by a district-level evaluation team.  The district team is currently working with a few of the initial applicants to refine their ideas and project scope for future funding.

The district will accept additional applications and award the next round of iGrants in Spring 2015.

Friday, October 3, 2014

OPS Annual Report

The Owensboro Public Schools published its Annual Report today.  The 13-page document, available OPS website, offers a summary of key initiatives of the district over the past year.  It also includes a directory of schools, summary of the district strategic plan, and a dashboard of key data indicators updated to include the latest round of state assessment data.
in PDF form on the

The document can be accessed directly on this link: OPS Annual Report 2014.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

OPS News Release on Unbridled Learning Assessments

Owensboro Public Schools met district growth goals for a second straight year continuing forward progress on the latest round of the Kentucky Unbridled Learning assessments released today. 

“I am very pleased with our continued growth and progress of moving toward the overall goal of college and career readiness for all students,” said OPS Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake.  “The hard work and commitment of the staff is evident.”

“We have met many of our goals for this year and are already looking ahead to ensure continued progress for every student.  While there is always room to grow and improve, we want to take this moment to celebrate our improvement and the efforts of our students, teachers, and parents,” Dr. Brake said.  “Our teachers and students continue to focus on innovative instruction to improve student learning.   The state assessment results are just one measure among many that we use to regularly monitor student progress.”

Highlights of the district results include the following:
·       Sutton Elementary earned a Distinguished designation while meeting all annual growth targets.
·       Cravens Elementary earned a Proficient designation for the second consecutive year.
·       OHS had a significant increase in the percentage of graduates that met college and career readiness  
       standards from 55 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2014.
·       Both Owensboro Middle School North and South campuses and Owensboro High School met annual 
       growth targets again this year.  OMS-North and OHS missed the Proficient designation by a point.

“Our efforts at the high school level to raise more students to college and career readiness levels have paid off.  We have made great strides in providing students with more opportunities to engage in postsecondary pathways,” said Dr. Brake.  “As a district, we will continue to focus on ways to improve our graduation rate.  Our redesign of alternative education with Gateway Academy and our efforts to expand career and technical education will greatly aide our efforts to engage our students and to provide them with the career and college readiness that they need to be successful in a global society,” said Dr. Brake.

School-by-school highlights of the results include the following:
·       Cravens- Proficient
·       Estes- Needs Improvement- met all annual growth targets and progressing toward Proficient
·       Foust- Needs Improvement- missed growth targets by half a point, but progressing toward Proficient
·       Newton Parrish- Needs Improvement
·       Sutton- Distinguished, met all annual growth targets
·       Owensboro Middle School North Campus- Needs Improvement- met all annual growth targets, progressing toward Proficient, missed Proficient by one point.
·       Owensboro Middle School South Campus- Needs Improvement- met all annual growth targets, progressing toward Proficient
·       Owensboro High School- Needs Improvement, met all academic growth targets, missed Proficient by less than one point.  However, graduation rate goal was not met.

A complete data report is available at: