(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 27, 2013)
What should the business community know about Berkley Schools? That was the decision that had to be made by Superintendent Dennis McDavid as he was invited to speak at the Berkley Chamber of Commerce’s Annual State of the City Address on Oct. 25.
He went with the district’s commitment to learning, touting the remarkably high number of students who take part in Advanced Placement classes at the high school.
“AP are Advanced Placement classes. And the reason we think about these classes is because Advanced Placement classes are college-level classes, so these are classes the syllabi and curriculum are vetted by the college boards,” McDavid said.
“Nationally 12% of high school students graduate with at least one AP level class. At Berkley High School we offer 21 AP Classes, so we give our students a pretty wide range of offerings for AP. We also offer things beyond AP, like calculus 3 and the Syracuse University freshman composition class. We have others that are beyond what AP would think that high school students are capable of.
“Part of the reason AP is important is research indicates students who are merely exposed to an AP class – so they don’t have to do well in the class they just need to be exposed to it – do well in college. Part of the reason for that is they’re exposed to college-level work, college-level thinking and the depth and breadth of knowledge they’ll need to succeed in college. So, as I mentioned, think about this – 12% of high school students graduate with at least one AP class. This year in Berkley High School 60% of our seniors, 50% of our juniors, and 44% of our sophomores are taking at least one AP class.
“That’s absolutely astounding when you think about it. Think about this, what that means is that four out of ten, better than four out of ten, of our sophomores are taking college-level material. That’s incredible.
“The other thing to think about is they didn’t walk in the door of Berkley High School and get smart… What it says is this is an indicator for our system. So system-wide what it says is our elementary and middle schools are doing a great job for preparing students for high school and the world beyond.”
McDavid also talked about how the school partners with Oakland Schools Technological Campus to provide vocational programming for students who are not on the college-path. “About 14% of our students go there,” he said. “We track that number because we don’t want to push kids to do things they don’t want to do. We want to be responsive to their needs and their ambitions.” He explained that through that partnership 82 students are learning skills like auto mechanics, woodworking, and computer-related classes like being able to write apps.
Another point of pride is that Berkley Schools “continues to be recognized by the Washington Post and Newsweek Magazine as one of America’s Best High Schools.”
“Let me state unequivocally, the state of our school district is great and getting better,” he said.
McDavid went on to talk about other offerings through the District, and the challenges they face thanks to budget cuts in Lansing. View the entire speech in the video below. For more on Berkley Public Schools go to http://www.berkleyschools.org/.