The Brinnon School is one of more than 200 schools statewide, but the only school district in Jefferson County, to be recognized for its growth and achievement as part of an initiative to reward schools with low achievement that are rapidly improving.
The new Washington School Improvement Framework puts a spotlight on schools that are making progress in closing opportunity gaps among student groups.
“The new way we measure success is aligned with our mission, vision, values and commitment to equity,” said Chris Reykdal, superintendent of Public Instruction for the state. “Sixty-five percent of schools receiving awards this year have not been recognized in the previous three recognition cycles.”
Recognized schools measure within the top 20 percent on the Washington School Improvement Framework measures and are making “significant” progress closing gaps among student groups.
“There is incredible work happening in our schools every day,” Reykdal said. “Accompanied by unprecedented levels of support at the state level and a relentless focus on data, schools are viewing continuous improvement like they never have before. The educators, students and families of recognized schools have a lot to be proud of.”
Brinnon School District Superintendent Patricia Beathard attributed much of Brinnon’s successes on this front to its staff’s efforts to create a “positive and productive” culture of learning, by examining all aspects of the school day, no matter how minor, to try and ensure each one would contribute to such a culture.
These measures range from simple steps, such as making sure students have adequate supervision during their breakfasts, lunches, outdoor periods and dismissals, to building schedules designed to maximize student learning time.
“We maintain high expectations for student behavior, and provide a variety of positive rewards for good attendance and behavior,” Beathard said. “It’s part of our mission to develop positive relationships with our students, parents, and community.”
To that end, the Brinnon School’s recently forged partnership with 4-H for after-school programs was funded by several donors, including Jefferson Healthcare, to help keep students active, healthy and engaged.
The Brinnon School likewise coordinates with the YMCA to provide full-day summer school for all students who wish to attend, which was extended and expanded this year, thanks to another round of funding from their partners at Jefferson Healthcare.
This year’s Brinnon Summer School is slated to run eight weeks, with new features such as art instruction, field trips and outdoor activities, while still offering a strong focus on both reading and math.
And while county-funded counseling has already been put into place at other school districts, Beathard noted the program is new for Brinnon, where it’s funded counseling through one-tenth of 1% of the sales tax.
“Our early release Fridays allow time for staff collaboration and planning, and all our classrooms have instructional support staff,” Beathard said. “This allows our teachers to incorporate small-group instruction to address learning at the appropriate instructional levels, and we have a truly excellent staff.”
As part of its focus on math and writing for improvement, the Brinnon School has adopted a new math curriculum that Beathard described as “complex and comprehensive.”
“We also discuss expectations for writing at each grade level, and student writing has improved tremendously,” Beathard said. “We use high quality online support tools. These instructional tools never take the place of teacher instruction, but support it.”
Beathard named the Washington Reading Corps as an important part of the Brinnon School’s literacy support for the past two years.
Brinnon and the other 200-plus schools will be honored in concurrent ceremonies in Olympia and Spokane on June 6.
“The Brinnon School is a wonderful school family,” Beathard said. “The staff works hard to support the remarkable student progress our students demonstrate.”