Elmbrook: Pretty buildings make for better students

Or not. The proof certainly isn’t in the scoring. While the administration is quick to dismiss the data as unimportant (this time anyway because it’s somewhat embarrassing), taxpayers should remember everything they were promised by throwing millions of dollars into two high schools.

Promises, promises. Are my property values improved yet?


  1. I love this part:

    “And even though scores in some subject areas, including 10th-grade reading and math, saw some decreases from last year, Elmbrook officials said the dips aren’t cause for too much alarm. ‘There’s variations in the test from year to year and it’s different groups of kids from year to year, so minor fluctuations aren’t anything that are necessarily disconcerting,’ said Melanie Stewart, Elmbrook director of student learning. ‘It’s fairly common.'”

    So basically she is saying this year’s group of kids are just dumber?

  2. Yikes. The elementary school changes are somewhat in both directions and not too bad, but the high school drops are alarming. 40-50 fewer students can read proficiently at a 10th grade level then just 1 year ago? I’d like to hear a real answer for that…. the odds are very high there is more going on here than “minor random fluctuation from one class to the next”. Any theories?

  3. In a very politically correct way, yes.

    If I remember correctly it’s about every 4th or 5th year that a group of kids going through the private grade school my children used to attend just weren’t as bright when measuring the group as the others. I don’t know what causes it, but I’d have to say, after looking at those numbers, Elmbrook’s class of 2013 looks to be one of them.

    Of course, it could be all that non-resident enrollment is skewing the results. 😉

  4. “So basically she is saying this year’s group of kids are just dumber?”

    I think you got it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We moved to Brookfield from a different state this year. With 3 kids in college and experience in 2 previous high schools I can tell you that the Elmbrook School District has a vaunted opinion of themselves that I do not see as deserved. They think they are better than any other high school in the country!

    My son in high school here says it is a lot easier than his previous high school. My son in middle school is surprised at the things his classmates have not learned. I cannot figure out why the administrators and teachers are so full of themselves.

    But if you think test scores are not what they should be wait until the 4×4 block scheduling kicks in. The students could easily take a math class the beginning of one school year, let’s say Sept 2011, finish Jan 2012 and not take math again until Jan 2013. How will that help math scores? My son says his math teacher calculated that under this block scheduling he will have hours and hours and hours of less teaching time. If I had known Elmbrook was going to switch to this form of block scheduling (my older kids had better variations of block) we never would have chosen Brookfield as our home.

  6. I recall seeing a comment by school board President Tom Gehl speculating that the outside enrollment, which is now in excess of 10%, is causing test scores to travel downward.

    I’m not sure how “block scheduling” prevents a student from continuous enrollment in a math class. This would seem contraindicated. My engineer spouse says the only way to get “good” at math is to practice.

    I do know that there are concerns with some of the infrastructure in the high schools, the roofs and HVAC to be specific. Glenn Algaier is having this surveyed, on a no cost basis, by a contractor that did not work on the High School remodeling and renovation. My question is: I thought that the HVAC and roof needs were part of the $ 63 million referendum. There were tours and videos showing the conditions inside the schools, but these were not addressed? I am occasionally updated by someone on the inside, but still no answers.

  7. Thank you for recalling that, Winegirl. I made a sideways reference to it all, but didn’t realize he’d called it, too. I don’t have facts, but if there was one place I’d love to look, it’s in the test scores of those we import to the district. I’d also lay decent odds on the idea that the 10th grade has a higher percentage of 220 than any other group right now, as the district has moved from 220 to open enrollment.

    The youngest went berserk when she heard Elmbrook had moved to block scheduling. She’s quite certain it will 1) dumb down the students since the mind will only absorb what the backside can endure, and 2) be a huge hurdle for lesson planning since most instructors use the same plan from year or semester to the next.

    We got screwed with that referendum, girl. Can’t be more blunt than that. All the mommies wanted their bright little children in classrooms someday where they had pretty floors and walls. The district knew this and gave them pretty floors and walls. We, after all, are a remarkably unlimited funding source. God love Glen Allgaier, but don’t you think he, of all people, was obligated to understand the construction plans enough to know little things like roofing and HVAC were left out? I know I’m hard on the board, but they’ve pretty much earned it over the years by forgetting to really do their work. They all so very much want to please Matt Gibson. That dude must wear some funky cologne or something. I’ve never seen a Pied Piper so able.

  8. Winegirl: Students can take math continuously in the 4X4 block schedule only if they give up something else. 90 minute class periods=fewer classes per “term”. My child signed up (though we have yet to see the schedule) for Geometry and Alegebra II next year, but this means only half a year of foreign language–there isn’t room in this condensed schedule to fit everything. So, she will be spending the better part of a year without a foreign language class. How does this help learning? It is hard to believe that rushing through Geometry and Algebra II in one year is going to be equivalent to spending two years on the same material, as previously. And yes, they are going to have much less instructional time.

    The lack of public concern expressed over this hasty switch to block schedules is really surprising. What about the AP classes? It was difficult to get through the more rigorous classes in a full year ( e.g. AP European History, AP US History, And AP Chemistry required studying the summer before). How are they possibly going to successfully run AP classes from either Sept-late Jan. or late Jan.-early May. and have the students ready to achieve high scores on the national exams in early May?? Does it seem likely that the students will really know the subject matter and be prepared to use it in college?

    Another problem is the scheduling of music (band , orchestra, choral) classes which must run throughout the year, and will be scheduled on alternating days. We were told that certain classes will be scheduled to run opposite the music classes, but wonder which classes can work for the freshman-senior students in music classes.

    It is very concerning that this district is experimenting with the current students’ education, all for an announced possible savings of $375,00 (187,500 per high school). Surely there are other ways to find savings. These kids are not going to have another oppportunity to prepare for college. It seems that this school district has chosen style over substance.