Berkeley Springs High School strives to meet the needs of each student
Berkeley Springs High School staff is proud of their school and students and of their efforts to address the needs of each teen individually. Their local school improvement council gave its presentation at the April 3 Morgan County School Board meeting.
Some 75% of this year’s graduating class of 183 students are going on to college or vocational/technical school or are joining the military to further their education, said Principal Lance Fox. It was 50% several years ago.
Colleges seniors will attend include John Hopkins University, New York University, Cornell University, West Point, Virginia Military Institute, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Virginia Tech University, Shepherd University, Marshall University and West Virginia University.
AP exams, AYP
The number of Advanced Placement (AP) exams given yearly has increased. In May, 2011, they gave 213 AP exams while they administered 134 AP exams in 2010. Fox expected 200 AP exams this year.
Some 29% of 57 students that took Advanced Placement (AP) exams made a “3” or better, which included nine of 20 AP Psychology students, all six AP Art students and around half of the AP English students. The school plans an AP boot camp this summer to help students prepare for the rigorous classes and exams.
The school has met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) every year for 11 years, Fox said. All of their students are above the state average in reading and language arts.
Seniors increased their math proficiency percentage seven points from 2010 to 2011. Sophomores and junior were below the state average in math.
The percentage of students that scored a “4” or better on the 2011 writing assessment increased by 10% or more in every class, he said. Writing coach Linda Unger was working with individual students and English teachers were using West Virginia Writes to prepare classes for the writing assessment.
Staff was focused on critical student skills in math and reading and language arts. Benchmark testing with questions similar to WESTEST ones occurs every nine weeks, Fox said. Teachers were assessing areas of need in math. English teachers created plans for students in English 9, 10 and 11.
Juniors with low or partial mastery in reading and math were identified. These teens are getting individual attention, Fox said.
ACT test scores in reading and language arts are higher than state and national averages, but math scores are lower.
Discipline & attendance
Total discipline referrals were around one-third of the number reported last year as of April 3. Out-of-school suspensions were about 2.5 times lower. They were trying to keep kids in school, said Assistant Principal Jamie Harris.
Referrals for tardiness had dropped significantly. The highest number of referrals this year was for students skipping or leaving school grounds without permission, which had also decreased.
Attendance was at 96%, the highest ever in recent years, Harris said. They had 26 meetings with the prosecuting attorney about severe attendance issues and filed nine criminal complaints.
Attendance problems were also connected to students’ academic issues and grades, said Assistant Principal Kristen Tuttle. Students needed instruction that was tailored to their specific needs and interests.
The different levels of intervention include core, targeted and intense instruction.
There are academic, behavioral and environmental factors involved for students.
It’s important to talk with kids and find out what’s going on with them, as well as talking to their parents, teachers, peers and coaches, Tuttle said.
Anti-bullying efforts continued with a new student task force and the trial run deployment of the new online anti-bullying reporting program in mid-April. All ninth, 10th and 11th grade students were informed about the program at assemblies, Fox said.
The reporting system is anonymous, though people can give their name, he said. The report goes straight to counselors.
School goals were improving reading/language arts and math proficiency to at least 60%, having all students graduate being prepared for post-secondary education and having students taking greater pride in their school and education.
An Athletic Hall of Fame will be implemented in 2013 that will have representatives from each decade of the school’s history. An academic Hall of Fame is also planned, he said.
Social studies classes will record former alumni about their high school years and their lives since they graduated. Other classes will collect and display school artifacts.
Their biggest need is moving the main office to the current distance learning lab for security purposes, Fox said. All visitors would be funneled through that entrance. The distance-learning room would be moved to the vocational building and the intervention rooms would move to the current main office.
Other top needs include after-school tutoring four days a week for three hours, substitute teachers for cross-curricular intervention meeting days, an updated or new clock and bell system, security camera repairs, staff development, microscope and calculator replacements and floor tile being replaced in the main building.
An academic coaching position was also requested along with an increase in the school’s transportation allocation so the Pep/Spirit Club could attend away events.
Great kids, staff
Fox felt they had a great staff and student body. He has been a high school teacher and administrator for the last decade. Now as principal, Fox said he was conducting the “best orchestra in the world.”