homepage logo

Oasis High among top schools in the nation

By Staff | Apr 29, 2016

There has been a lot to brag about these days for the Cape Coral Charter School system. And on Friday, there was one more feather to be added to their cap.

Oasis High School has landed at No. 64 on the list of “Most Challenging High Schools” in the United States, according to the Washington Post, making it the highest ranked school in Southwest Florida.

The list was compiled by the paper using a “Challenge Index” to rate public high schools. Only 2,300 of the nation’s 22,000 public high schools managed to reach the minimum standard of the index, which places Oasis in the Top 1 percent of high schools in the country.

Not bad for a school that only opened its doors in 2009.

“Our students are incredible. Many of them are enrolled in AP courses at school, therefore the number of students graduating with courses in those areas is very high,” Oasis Principal Shannon Treece said. “That’s a great honor.”

Oasis was one of 10 Lee County public schools that made the index. North Fort Myers just missed the top 100, finishing 108th.

Oasis was also among 373 high schools in the state to make the list, and below only 14 Florida high schools, many of them on the east coast.

“We are very pleased and proud of our high school, and that includes our students, faculty, parents. They’ve helped establish this world-class organization,” said charter schools superintendent Nelson Stephenson. “It’s not so much about the competition, but what we are doing right, and that goes back to the parental involvement.”

Indeed, many of the parents volunteer and are involved and engaged. Stephenson also said he has a staff that cares and an administration that goes above and beyond, creating a recipe for success.

It’s the students who reap the benefits, as they look forward to the challenge of learning.

“They desire to take these courses. They are conscientious of what’s going to happen for them at the post-graduate level and are focused on getting academics in order, taking the most rigorous course load they can,” Treece said.

Oasis is an “A” rated school, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and approved by the NCAA.

In 2015, Oasis students had a median GPA of 3.72 (with the highest being a 5.51 and the top 5 percent averaging a 5.51), received $1.6 million in scholarships, and more than 41 percent of students qualified for Bright Future scholarships.

Their ACT average for math and reading exceeded the national level, and their SAT average in reading was above the national average, with their overall SAT scores the highest in Lee County.

Among Oasis’ programs include the Cambridge AICE program and AP curriculum, industry certification in Microsoft and culinary, as well as 19 honors courses and a Model United Nations Team.

The Challenge Index is determined by the total number of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge tests given at a school each year divided by the number of seniors who graduated. With a few exceptions, public schools that achieved a ratio of at least 1.00, meaning they had as many tests in 2015 as they had graduates, were put on the list.

In Oasis’ case, their test scores, combined with a graduation rate that is almost perfect, gave them an edge.

They don’t “teach to the test.” They follow the curriculum, but also do Project Based Learning, hands-on projects, and other things.

“Our graduation rate in 99.9 percent. We don’t focus on the test scores. We’re not scaring kids to get high test scores. High test scores are the result of good teaching,” Stephenson said.

Jessica Cosden, city council liaison for the charter schools, said she knew Oasis was a top-notch school, but was pleasantly surprised by that ranking.

“It’s not just the quality of the students, but the quality of the teaching. It’s constant good news for the system and it puts it in line with all the other schools in the area, if not a notch above,” Cosden said.

Other Lee County schools to make the list include; Fort Myers (242), Gateway Charter (266), Cape Coral (473), Estero (792), Cypress Lake (1454), Mariner (1495), Riverdale (1528), Dunbar (1894) and Island Coast (2147).