WBECHS earns regional recognition for academics

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Whale Branch Early College High School has been honored as the first Platinum-Level “Ready-Certified” high school recognized by the Southern Regional Education Board.

The SREB, a nonprofit compact of 16 states stretching from Delaware to Texas, cited WBECHS for its outstanding teaching and leadership with SREB Readiness Courses.

The SREB said that after implementing Math Ready and Literacy Ready courses, Whale Branch has seen more than a 30 percent increase in underprepared students meeting the college-readiness English benchmark, and success in Algebra I has reached an all-time high of 78 percent among students who took Ready for High School Math.

“This shows the time and effort we’ve put into building the capacity for our teachers,” WBECHS Principal Mona Lise Dickson said. “And once we build that capacity for our teachers, we know our achievement will increase.”

Prior to recognizing and certifying Whale Branch, the SREB evaluated student achievement data over time and also conducted an on-site visit to meet with teachers and school leaders.

“Far too many students need developmental (remedial) education when they get to college,” the organization said.  “SREB’s Literacy Ready and Math Ready help address the readiness gap by improving specific skills and understanding for high school students.”

Dickson said teachers at WBECHS meet once a week for professional development and to brainstorm additional ways of improving student achievement.

“The culture of the students is changing right before our eyes,” said Instructional Coach Shelia Cato.  “They’re taking their studies more seriously.  They know how to go and advocate for themselves because that’s all a part of the SREB training.  And it’s working.”

Math teacher Peter Burvenich said the school’s approach is raising the academic bar for students.

“It is about changing the mindset of teaching mathematics,” Burvenich said. “Putting kids in the atmosphere of productive struggle in order to learn mathematics instead of it becoming just a memorizing process.  Give them harder scenarios, harder questions, and give them time to work it out.” 

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