Brandywine schools vary in rankings

Published 3:41 pm Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Brandywine schools varied in the Top to Bottom rankings released by the state earlier this year. (Daily Star Photo/File)

Brandywine schools varied in the Top to Bottom rankings released by the state earlier this year. (Daily Star Photo/File)

When the state released its Top to Bottom rankings list for schools this summer, the numbers for Brandywine Community Schools were good in some cases and concerning in others.

Merritt Elementary School showed it was performing above 68.5 percent of schools within the state in math, English language arts and improvement.

But the high school showed the other side of the spectrum, at above just 14.7 percent of high schools in Michigan.

Since the release of that report, Superintendent John Jarpe and Brandywine High School Principal Patrick Weckle say officials are focusing on meeting state benchmarks and curriculum requirements and improving student achievement.

“Curriculum is a little more difficult in Michigan than it used to be,” Jarpe said; however, officials are focusing on being sure students “measure up to that.”

“Everybody knows,” Jarpe said, speaking of staff and administrators. “Everybody is working together to accomplish that.

“That sounds very simple,” he said. “But it’s very difficult to do when you’re changing your instruction… There’s no silver bullet.”

But there are steps to be taken. Brandywine and Merritt elementary school have instituted a behavioral learning program, “validated throughout the state of Michigan that links behavior standards and high expectations with student behavior to student achievement and student academics,” Jarpe said. “So it’s kind of getting the foundation set at that level.”

At the high school, Weckle said the school gained points in overall Michigan Merit Scores in writing and mathematics.

“So we’re excited about that,” he said.

He credits the improvement in writing to a school-wide writing hour and says the staff and administration are holding to an eight-step process called “Plan Do Check Act.” Steps in the process include analyzing various data and state test scores, developing curriculum maps and an instructional timeline, administering tutorials to help students get caught up and monitoring the progress of the process overall.

Weckle said he’d characterize the lower scoring on the Top to Bottom list for the high school as “a lot of great teaching going on. However, I don’t think the focus is on what the state wants and we need to focus more on” those state requirements.

“Our goal is to consistently be in the top quartile in the county,” he said. “We’re on the rise. We’re going in the right direction.”