How Berryhill School District Earned High Marks From State

Tuesday, November 27th 2012, 4:48 pm
By: Emory Bryan

When the new A-F grades came out for schools, many superintendents complained they didn't reflect the quality of the school.

But one Tulsa area district isn't complaining.

That's because their three schools earned passing grades—two A's and a B, in fact.

While the classrooms in Berryhill look typical, the students here do better than most and it shows in the grades from the state.

Berryhill's middle and high schools both earned an A and the elementary school got a B.

"We had a lot of students score advanced," said curriculum director Debbie Garner. "When we first started getting the numbers, I started looking and doing the averages myself and thought this can't be right but it was, because they give more than one point for advanced scores and it made our scores be exceptionally high."

10/26/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Schools React To A-F Grade Reports

Berryhill's scores were boosted by a high number of students considered to be advanced, like the students in tenth grade advanced Algebra II.

Math department chair Tanna Walker said teachers work together to look for gaps, so they can go back to last year's teachers for help.

"And we really try to work together. And it's not, ‘You didn't do this right or that right;' it's that, ‘We see a problem and can you help us catch them up,'" Walker said.

Berryhill uses testing every nine weeks to identify students who need smaller classes for tutoring and they say that alone changes most failing students into average or better students.

The district has also carefully arranged classes so they build on what's already been learned, which works best in a district where few students move in or out.

"When they go in as juniors, they know what they learned as sophomores and they're ready to move on. We don't have a lot of mobility," Garner said.

Berryhill's administrators said they're already working on strategy for the elementary school, hoping next year they can get all A's from the state.

Berryhill's B for the elementary school was based on average performance in reading and a lack of progress among the lowest performing students.

The district is implementing new reading programs to improve those scores.