Brandon scores are up, but we are about more than scores!: A column by Dr. Matt Outlaw

Dear Ortonville-Brandon Community,
This spring, Brandon students did well again on the State’s annual SAT exam. Brandon was up in all areas and our scores were similar to most high schools in the area. The truth is that we are happy with the scores, but these simple numbers just don’t seem to tell enough of the Brandon story. This doesn’t mean that scores do not matter, but I would suggest that some of the following may be even more valuable measures than a simple school-wide average on a test like the SAT.
· Student growth is more valuable than school-wide averages – The reality is that school-wide averages typically reflect the socio-economic status of a community. For example, it is no coincidence that the highest scoring schools in the county are also within the wealthiest communities. In Brandon, we focus on the individual growth of every student. For example, if a students is in the 25th percentile when the year begins and they end the year in the 40th, they will not meet the State benchmark but we need to take time to celebrate this student’s successful school year. In Brandon, we typically measure individual student growth using a nation-wide test known as the NWEA. Over the past 5 years, Brandon has increased by 13.3 percentile points in Math and 7.1 percentile in ELA. Bottom line: Brandon students are showing strong growth in addition to competitive school-wide averages.
· 85-90% continue their education beyond Brandon – Brandon also judges itself by looking at the number of students that are accepted to and are successful at the next level of education. 85-90% of our graduates each year continue their education beyond Brandon and they do very well in these pursuits.
· Well-rounded – Brandon prides itself of providing a well-rounded experience for our students. We want our students to grow academically but also as people. This is the reason that the district has invested so heavily in new programs including K-12 STEM education, elementary Spanish, our drama program, our character education program and so many more. Life is about so much more than just academics. With a well-rounded approach, we want our graduates to have a competitive advantage in the work force and beyond.
· Successful graduates tell our story – As you look at the incredible stories of Brandon graduates each year as part of our distinguished alumni program, there is no doubt that our graduates are making an impact on the world. Their success is measured through generations and not by individual test scores.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate our students and staff on their strong performance on this year’s State testing. We are very proud of all of you and we want to wish you continued success during the 2019-20 school year!!! Go Blackhawks!!!
Matthew S. Outlaw
Superintendent for the Brandon School District

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