Oak Park High has many smart students from upper middle class families who attend private tutoring sessions and other academic classes outside of the school to compensate for the lack of quality instructions and overcrowded classes. The school has too many certified classroom monitors who pass out worksheets and turn on 'inspirational videos'. The district's success is based solely on the caliber of students in attendance and parents' money spent on private classes. Our children have attended OPHS and we purposely chose this district after moving into the area, but unless you send your child to a private tutor or other outside academic program, expect them to do worse here academically than at any other public school in the vicinity. Oak Park High teachers and staff are completely spoiled by parents willing go above and beyond to provide their offspring with a decent education.
This school is so jam-packed that your child either needs to be extra fortunate or belong in to the privileged group to enroll into classes. 2016-2017 registration opened at 9:00 pm, at 9:02 pm my kid was #20 on the waiting list, at 9:15 pm the waiting list was full. I know quite a few people with kids in high schools, but I never heard parents of Westlake, Agoura, Newbury Park, or Moorpark students complain about their schools not having enough classes. Now we are told that summer school might be "the only way to get all required credits" and taking the class for credit at a community college "is not allowed per district policy". Technically they are correct, the class is indeed offered by the school during the year. The problem is that unless you are someone important or have relatives on the district's payroll your OPHS student has small chances of enrolling into popular classes. Even though $650/class price tag won't break the bank for most OP families, not every family can instantly change plans to accommodate 8 weeks of summer school. Quite unfortunate that for OPUSD $650 per class per person is a big enough reason to not accept community college credits. It is also frustrating that the school and the districts do nothing to ensure that OPHS has enough classes during the school year so every kid wanting to get all required credits to apply to CS/UC gets his chance.
OPHS is a good school academically as they stand on 130-140 best school in the country but it has very low level sports and extra curriculum activities. If your kid is talented in sports or wants to take their skills to next level better continue to read.
OPHS is not the school you want to send your kids if they are Asian, Latino and black. They will not get opportunity to grow their skills or play the sports they love. We have been noticing that main qualification to make the team is not the skills here but you have to be white race.
Far better kids from other race either don't make the team or they are going to be on the bench most of the season. Coaches also prefer those who pays to them through their clubs and Oh yeah, if your kids are at coaches' clubs and or staff kids, they will make the team as long as they can move around.
-By a parent
OPUSD is terribly overrated. We moved to Oak Park 3 years ago and currently have children in high and middle schools. Both schools are unremarkable. Both are overcrowded with students having no option to optimize class schedule in HS and a little chance of taking electives of choice in middle school. High school AP classes are ridiculously limited in space (< 100 students). As a result AP enrollment is lottery based, or so they say. The situation with AP classes was not expected and not something OPUSD openly admits. Rather high % of teachers in the district hold credentials only without a degree in subject. When hiring new teachers the district clearly chooses former OPUSD grads over more qualified candidates. The later might be a common practice in smaller districts with people granted a position because of connections rather than qualification and experience. Although OPUSD heavily advertises itself as the district with high academics, it has close to zero student participation in state or national academic competitions. There are no records of OPUSD students winning any state academic competitions. Both school principals never miss an opportunity to boast about the only OPUSD achievement, i.e. MCMS/OPHS students winning Ventura County Science Fair, but there is one caveat. All science fair projects are done entirely by the students and their families with absolutely no assistance from the schools at any stage. High school sports program is subpar and is extremely limited in space. Be aware that OPHS has no swimming pool, which means no water sports. If you are the type of person that loves looking at glossy brochures published by the district, sitting on dozen of committees with pretentious names, receiving district emails full of buzz words such as "holistic approach to education" and "moral imperatives", and not interested in college admission you'd definitely thrive at OPUSD. For everyone else I'd not recommend moving to Oak Park solely for the schools. The district has a severe shortage in every core area: number of well educated, inspiring teachers, space in classes, access to HS counselors, access to sports, access to community service programs, even textbooks. OPUSD offers no extras such as career technical education classes, afterschool programs, job shadowing programs, etc
Oakpark high school does not provide similar opportunity based on skills and merit to its students. They are bias in selection of student for sports. Teachers also show favoritism. No matter how good your child is if they do not fall within these three categories they ruin their dreams.
1. Most be white
2. Must play in coaches club team or pay him for private lesson.
3. Must be staff kids.
If you have these three things your kid will get to play any sports they want even if their skill level is at the bottom.
Although it is a good school academically, it is a bad school for those who want to play high school sports. The qualifications and requirements to play sports in Oakpark is not how good you are and how serious and diligent you are but it basically depends on 3 things:
1. Are you a white person?
2. Are you playing sports with your coaches club teams or are you being coached by your high school coaches for money?
3. Are you a staff kid?
If you do not fall within these three categories, no matter how good you are, you are not going to get a chance. If you do that's just to sit on the bench.
I am not sure why they hire coaches who are destroying young talents for their own selfish reasons.
Written by a parent.
The testscore-based high school ratings aren't very conclusive unless there is a way to tell how much tutors were involved into getting that perfect score. Someone recently pointed me to OPHS principal's interview in the January issue of Acorn where Mr. Buchanan strongly encouraged all OP high school students to enroll into outside test preparation classes. That interview kind of explains why in some of my kid's AP classes 80%- 90% of the students are using outside tutoring services. The good news is that now parents can find not too expensive tutoring options like online classes or Skype-based tutoring. The bad news is that some of OPHS teacher's aren't trying to teach. These people show movies in the classrooms or tell students to read textbooks, assign lots of busy-style homework which rarely, if ever, gets checked, and give tests. The real learning for the classes happens outside the school. So far the school administration had not reacted well to the questions about way too large gap between material covered in the lectures and material covered on the tests, and I don't think his year is going to be any different. Over the years I have heard a variety of explanations from OPHS administration from my favorite one 'we are teaching students to think by letting them self-study' to 'this is a young teacher she is still learning', and 'we don't monitor what a teacher does in the classroom as long as his student produce good testscores'. Same person who told about Acorn interview had mentioned that her family had to spent well over $10K on tutors and counselors in order to get their OPHS student with mostly A's into a UC college.
One need to have a really twisted sense of humor to call 43% of OPHS 11-graders failing state math test 'an exceptionally good result' the way OPHS principal and OPUSD administration did last week. There was some tenuous hope that in the wake of test results revealing almost half of the graduates leaving the school with close to zero proficiency in math - and hence in physics, chemistry, and biology - the district will take some steps towards restructuring middle and high school math departments. Unfortunately after the results were labeled 'exceptionally good' OPUSD students are doomed to be taught math by people with degrees in Dance, PE and Liberal Arts, zero joking here - these are actual degrees of OPUSD middle and high math departments members.
FYI, test results for 2 schools that were often ridiculed by OPUSD and OPHS administration
% of Students FAILING Math test: OPHS - 43/ Westlake High - 31/Palos Verdes Pen High - 26
% of Students FAILING English test OPHS - 22/Westlake High - 14/Palos Verdes Pen High - 16
% of NON-Economical Disadvantage Students FAILING Math test: OPHS - 43/Westlake High - 28/Palos Verdes Pen High - 25
% of NON-Economical Disadvantage Students FAILING English test: OPHS - 21/Westlake High - 11/Palos Verdes Pen High - 15
For most parts a "do-it-yourself" school. If your child plans to attend a community college or a university with SAT score in very low 1000, you may be OK with what the school has to offer. If the goal is something more exciting, start looking for tutoring services in grade 9 or your child will have hard time catching up. Be prepared to take AP classes and exams outside the school. OPHS doesn't offer that many AP classes and process of getting into a class is not so straightforward. Even if your child gets into AP class, having 50 peers in the classroom is nowhere optimal. Applying for colleges is going to be 100% your responsibility, the best school can do is help you applying to MCC or CSUCI. Keep in mind that it takes at least a week to get an appointment with one of the school counselors, so make sure to plan well ahead if you need signatures. OPHS doesn't accept community college classes for HS credit. Cost of the summer program run by the district is rather steep; $300-$600 per class. For us the school consumed much more resources than we ever planned to invest, both time and finances
The school used to be much better, now they tend to spend money on things such as customized golf carts for staff to drive around on along campus rather than paying for paper and ink so students don't need to print out their 25 page homework packets. The work is excessive and some of the teachers seem inexperienced and are trying new things in the classroom too often. The vast majority of the students are very nice and approachable. The school itself, as a student, I would not recommend it unless you want your children in something of a Japanese Cram School.