Oklahoma Legislation Creates Flight Path for Core Credit for High School Aviation Classes

Photo above – Career and Online Education Director David Day with Pryor High School Innovation Center is one of Five Oklahoma Aviation High Schools of Excellence teaching the AOPA “You Can Fly” curriculum.

A three-year effort to qualify aviation and aerospace courses as core curriculum for students has been signed into law.  The goal was to create a mechanism for the 4-year “You Can Fly” High School Curriculum developed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which is being adopted by school districts at a record pace across the state, to qualify as core credit and provide additional options for students. Senate Bill 1147, by Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole and Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, directs the State Board of Education to determine if courses on aviation are eligible for non-elective academic credit toward meeting Oklahoma’s graduation requirements.

Chris Eckler, Ada High Aviation instructor, teaches the AOPA “You Can Fly” program, and recently earned his private pilot license alongside several students learning the aviation curriculum. Ada Public Schools is part of the Five Oklahoma Aviation High Schools of Excellence.

Over the last several years, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission has led the way to advocate and implement this new curriculum to support Oklahoma’s commitment to solve workforce challenges and to ensure that the state’s second-largest industry, aviation and aerospace, continues to be a major economic driver for the state. Oklahoma is ranked in the top 3 in the Nation for implementing the AOPA curriculum with 28 schools that are currently teaching the program for the 2021-2022 school year. 

In late 2021 the Commission, as part of a statewide consortium, was awarded a Federal Aviation Administration Workforce Development Grant to further support the implementation of the AOPA program and to make Oklahoma’s educators aware of the potential that aviation and aerospace have in their classrooms. Ada High School, McAlester High School, Mustang High School, Okmulgee High School, and Pryor High School were all early adopters of the AOPA program and are leading the charge with implementing the curriculum across the state. Because of their expertise and willingness to share their knowledge they have been designated as Oklahoma Aviation High Schools of Excellence.

“Hundreds of students across Oklahoma are enrolled in rigorous aviation coursework that will lead them to high-quality post-secondary aerospace programs and industry careers. As a pilot, I knew that introducing this bill this session would be needed to ensure Oklahoma aviation courses could count as core credits,” said Sen. Zack Taylor, Seminole.

“By providing the ability for students to receive core credit for aerospace coursework, the Oklahoma legislature has paved the way for schools to build career pathways that will not only benefit students but will ensure the continued growth of Oklahoma’s second leading industry,” said Rep. Nicole Miller, Edmond.

State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies said “Oklahoma has demonstrated an excellent commitment to the implementation of strong aviation education programming to help our state’s number two industry with its workforce needs. Many in the industry have long-desired this aviation-focused, primary-level education curriculum to get students started on an early flight plan for joining the aviation or aerospace career field.”

You can learn more about the program by visiting oac.ok.gov/aviation-education.