If the Bellevue School District were a nation, its high-school students would rank among the top of the world’s developed nations on an influential international exam.According to the Times, Bellevue pays for their 15-year old students to take the test. (It's a bit confusing because the Times then says they don't take the "official" test.) Bellevue has a "randomly" selected group of 15-year olds but I'd be interested to know if all 15 year-olds in BSD get put into that pool of students.
District officials said they are particularly pleased because Bellevue’s students are more diverse than in many of the countries that traditionally rank high on the PISA.That's probably true but I think it may be racial/ethnic but not economic over at BSD.
Comments from the Times' article:
Why does Bellevue score so well ? Many reasons:
1. In Bellevue over 62% of adults have a college or graduate degree, which means the population is both educated and values education.
2. Those adults make sure their children work hard in school and if their kids are struggling, they make sure their kids get assistance to enable success.
3. Those same adults pass school operating and capital levies, volunteer in the classroom, fund PTSA which pays for science fairs, field trips, books, teachers aids, reading programs, etc. etc.
4. The school has great facilities due to a capital bond that was passed years ago so the kids are comfortable and have the facilities needed for the various classes.
5. The voters passed a technology levy so today all high school kids (and some middle schools) have personal lap tops, internet at school, smart boards in every classroom, etc.
6. The school funds 7 period high school days (the state pays for 5(?)) which means the students can take more classes which prepare them for college and increase academic achievement.
7. Most Bellevue kids are well fed and have comfortable, supportive homes which makes it easier for the teachers to teach.
8. Bellevue has the funds to reward teachers who have national board certification, which means Bellevue has one of the highest (if not the highest) rate of nationally board certified teachers in the state.
9. Bellevue has a relatively low crime rate and low unemployment rate, therefore, the kids are safe at home and at school so have lower anxiety and can focus on being students, and their parents are most likely gainfully employed so there is less anxiety at home as well.
Interestingly, gifted education comes in:
Bellevue has one of if not the best gifted program in the state, which those of us in the neighboring districts can only envy. They identify, actively cull and nurture talent from a young age, and the result shows. A lot of East Asian families move to Bellevue because of its excellent gifted program, which further boosts its base results.
Bellevue does have a great gifted program but it also has great programs for all students. Spiritridge, one of the primary schools where the gifted program begins, has a nearly 100% pass rate in spite of maintaining nearly 50% of spots for neighborhood kids. That means everyone, not just gifted kids, are passing.
It is, on the contrary, an extreme commitment to every last child that is what makes the school district great. Many school districts manage to achieve high results for one group or another, in specific schools. In Bellevue every single school, even those with high special ed program populations, continue to improve.
See: Phantom Lake Elementary, which intakes special education children from its pre-school program and yet for the first time, thanks to dedication of staff, managed to exceed the district average for math scores in the 4th grade. Yes, the special ed program in the poorest area scored above average.
I'll let you all in on a little secret, there must be something in the water in Bellevue that makes kids so darn smart! Magically, Bellevue only has 9.5% of its students in Special Education while the state and national averages are both around 13.2%.
Meanwhile, just like Seattle SD, Bellevue has been having programing just for "African, Black, Latino, Native American or mix of any") males (BOOM) and for females (SHOUT).
I also heard about an incident that happened right after the presidential election involving some white female students at Newport High who openly denigrated black students on Snapchat. Apparently it caused a lot of strife at the school with the white students being kept at home for their own good (which is an interesting way to say you are disciplining students.)
From the Bellevue Reporter:
The Bellevue School Board passed a resolution Tuesday reaffirming the district’s stance on discrimination, bullying and harassment following parental concerns about incidents of hate over the last month.
It’s words, actions are more powerful, why are we doing this?’ I think that as several incidents have come to light in recent days … I don’t think they’re all election-relation. Things like this happen all of the time in our district and don’t make the radar. But, I see a reason to come out and make a strong statement,” Board President Christine Chew said.
“I have over 65 students who have sent out emails and texts … regarding the issue of racism that’s happening within the school district and has never been resolved… They feel like it’s hidden and nobody wants to talk about it,” Bellevue resident and YMCA volunteer Adam Dibba told the School Board on Dec. 6.
The morning after the election, a group of Puesta del Sol students aboard bus No. 26 chanted “build the wall.” A Bellevue kindergartner was reportedly told to leave the country by a student, and a Snapchat message involving the N-word sent by a Newport High School student was widely shared.
Newport High School student Jahdai Alcombrack teared up on Dec. 13 while discussing the Snapchat incident and others she had experienced over the last four years in the Bellevue School District.
There has not been an uptick in student bullying or discrimination, according to the district, and teachers and other staff are trained on handling such incidents and receive reminders about how to address them regularly.