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.
The focus of Oak Park High School is Oak Park High School, its mission being to solicit at least a third of its student body from out of district instead of serving the students enrolled. They need the $$$. The administration is completely inept at handling and resolving conflicts between staff, students and parents, which has lead to embarrassing public scandals in recent years (*as is documented in The Acorn). The facilities are lovely, the teachers the usual grab bag ranging from inspiring to inept. The students themselves are generally above average academically and socially accepting.
I have one child who attended and graduated last year from Oak Park HS. Although the classes were tough she was able to work hard and do well. My daughter now attends a Cal State college and is doing great because she was so prepared for the rigors of college. I have another daughter still attending OP High and is doing great. I will admit there are a lot of spoiled kids that go to this school because of the affluent surrounding area. We are a middle class family and from out of the district but both of our girls never felt rejected or that they did not fit in. We will also be sending our third daughter to Medea Creek.
there is something odd about this school's scores. API score is very high (in the top 25 schools in Cali) while the college readiness index is much lower. The college readiness index is about the same as for the schools with API in lower and mid 800's. Either the school is teaching to test targeting CST questions and letting AP preparation to be done by parents and tutors or something else is going on. High CST score is great for the district, but has zero value for students in terms of college admission. From the school report data only 25% of the students at the school were able to pass AP exams. Would be interesting to get common core data for the school and compare to similar schools in other states.
I love Oak Park! I'm going to be in 10th grade in the fall. I love the teachers. Of course there are some teachers who are just bad, but you have to get used to them. Some of the students are the typical snobby people, considering the neighborhood. It was my first time going here, and I loved it! I'm out of the district, and it is a very challenging school (regular CP classes feel like AP classes sometimes). It's a very nice school in a very safe area!
The teachers at this school are very good with many that truly want to be educators. The administration is awful. Their answer to a student with any challenges or behavior issues is to send them to Oak View or get rid of them. All they care about is where the school ranks in the county and test scores. If your child is an independent learner, gifted and only wants to please then they will do well here. If your child struggles academically then they will not be happy here. On several occasions my child was not allowed in a group for a group project because the students refused to allow anyone without a 4.0 in their group and the teachers do not try and stop this behavior. Students belittle other students if they don't have straight A's. I know of a child that was teased and called an underachiever because they had a B average.