School shines on STAAR: High school earns distinctions for fourth consecutive year

This year, Bryan High met standard according to the state by earning five out of the seven possible distinctions the state can award a school for the fourth year in a row.

“We earned five of the seven distinctions, which is pretty outstanding for a comprehensive school of our size,” associate principal Megan Jones said. “We earned the most distinctions out of schools in the district that are comparable to us.”

The school earned distinctions in math, science, social studies, English, and post-academic readiness.

“The distinctions we don’t have are top 25% student progress and top 25% closing performance gaps,” Jones said. “Those are the two areas we want to improve in because if we could have seven of seven, that would be perfect.”

Despite the distinctions, Bryan High administrators and faculty are still looking for ways to improve student success.

“Our two areas that we continue to have to focus on are English and algebra,” principal Lane Buban said. “Those tend to be our areas of most need and we are addressing those subjects not only through the classroom, but also changing how we provide instruction by adding comprehensive study time with the advisory class.”

The school has placed students into specific classes meant to individually target their weaknesses in those areas and make them stronger.

“There are kids who are coming to us from 8th grade that did not do well on the 8th grade English STAAR test, so we have them in classes specifically to help them with English,” Buban said. “We also have enrolled students who didn’t pass the English 1 EOC or English 2 EOC in advisory classes that focus on English. We do the same thing with algebra.”

The district is looking to help students make advances beyond the standard level with initiatives throughout all grades.

“Kindergarten through second grade has had a big focus of literacy,” Jones said. “At Bryan High School, we’ve implemented the reader-writer workshop into English I and English II primary classes. There’s a greater focus on reading and analyzing, and then that will carry over into math because if you’re a better reader, you can tackle word problems more efficiently and those analytical skills carry all the way through.”

Bryan High’s success helps the entire district by demonstrating the type of education students have received throughout their grade school years.

“For the district, it means that their biggest high school is doing well,” Buban said. “It makes Bryan High School look good and also helps district-wide in terms of helping the district look good academically.”

Though the test results do make the school look good, there have been years where things did not work in Bryan High’s favor, but that didn’t tell the whole story.

“When we were improvement required, it gave the incorrect impression to people outside of education,” Jones said. “It gave the impression that teachers weren’t doing their jobs and kids weren’t learning; that’s not the case.”

Jones and other district employees feel like the Bryan High’s fourth consecutive year of earning distinctions, validates the work of the students and teachers are doing in the classroom while working with a standardized system that can be unfair in both the administration and determination factors.

“The problem is, we battle an imperfect system,” Jones said. “Even when we were improvement required, our kids were doing what they were supposed to and our teachers are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Now, having met standard, it’s really nice to see our students and our teachers get the recognition for all the hard work that they do.”