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Sunday Evening News

May 7, 2006
Assistant Superintendent Mike Nelson writes to all staff each Sunday evening. This is his latest letter.

Weekends during this time of year seem to be full of regional and state events for our students. This weekend alone, we had students participating in the state History Day competition, jazz festival(for the first time we sent two groups!), sports playoffs, POW-WOW just to name a few. We have very talented students!!

My Sunday routine always involves a trip to the grocery store for the week’s food for our family. At the check-out stand, this week’s edition of Newsweek caught my attention. This week’s edition highlights the nation’s top 100 high schools. Their ranking system involves looking at the number of students who take an Advanced Placement test divided by the number of students that graduate from that high school.

The intent of Newsweek is to “recognize schools that do the best job of preparing average students for college.” By using the AP/graduating students formula, “we can measure how committed the school is to helping kids take college-level courses. We think kids at those schools have an edge, no matter their economic background.” The article also acknowledges several innovative and special focused high schools or academies (arts, sciences, community service) doing good things for kids.

When articles like this one are published, it causes a “buzz” around our district and community as I’m sure it does in other districts.

“Where does EHS stack up compared to these statistics?”

“Why are there only four schools from Washington state listed?”

“Why are they all from Bellevue?”

I thought I would briefly respond to each of these questions. Until recently, very few Advanced Placement classes were offered at Enumclaw High School. During the last several years a concerted effort has been made to raise student rigor and engagement across our K-12 system. This has been represented in our district through the creation of grade level expectation documents (standards), the adoption of strong instructional materials aligned to the standards and an assessment systems data-base to monitor student progress particularly their early literacy progress in the elementary and middle grades. This nudge across our K-12 system and the establishment of “pre-AP” courses for freshmen and sophomores during the last couple of years are a couple of examples that have allowed our high school to offer more Advanced Placement courses….more students are up for the challenge!

I have attached a chart that shows the number of students that have taken an advanced placement test during the last three years. If you were to perform Newsweek’sdivision problem, Enumclaw would receive a score of .5 (146 students taking an advanced placement test divided by 300 graduating) This is a dramatic increase from the last two years! I am curious what our Newsweek score will be this year. I can tell you that approximately 60 students took the Advanced Placement test for Language and Composition last Monday as compared to 15 who took it just last year.

It doesn’t surprise me that Bellevue has the four schools from Washington State represented on this list. For many years now, Mike Reilly their superintendent, has made this a very explicit goal for their school system.

Do I like articles like this? No. They are often written with little or limited information about a school or district, however if they are written they will cause communities to talk. My goal is to provide you with important information about good things occurring at Enumclaw High School in the area of Advanced Placement courses. I believe you, as staff members of the Enumclaw School District, are our best public relations representatives. One of my primary goals of writing the Sunday Evening News each week is to share accurate and detailed information with you in case you find yourself in the grocery store, at a family function or in your yard and questions about this article and our school district arise.

Until next week, Happy Learning!

Mike
Enumclaw School District
"Standing as ONE"