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franklin county times

City, county schools making the grade

The Alabama school progress report card is in and many local school districts are celebrating, while only one has been left behind to make improvements.

The State Department of Education released what’s called the Adequate Yearly Progress status (AYP) Monday, which measures each school system’s progress in reading skills, math skills, attendance rates and graduation rates.

There are several subgroups to the tests as well that factor into the final scores including everything from students who received free or reduced lunches to those who speak limited English.

Russellville City schools made the grade when it came to AYP, meeting 96 out of 96 goals from grades K-12.

The report shows Russellville City Schools in the green for the 2010-2011 AYP status with yes marks across the board on each level of reading, mathematics and additional academic indicators such as attendance and graduation.

RCS superintendent Don Cox said the grades prove just how hard teachers and students work each year.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher every year as the state keeps raising the bar and challenging students to do more,” he said. “We worry about this test every year and I believe every year we have seemed to accomplish our goals.”

Cox said even though the diversity and demographic factors have been stretched for what seems to be beyond comprehension, teachers have found a way to bring everything together and meet the educational goals set forth by the state.

Cox said it is amazing how the teachers and students really strive to make the grade every year, fighting through different obstacles to get there.

“We continue to worry about our numbers in the classroom, trying to keep them low so that teachers can be more involved with each individual student,” Cox said. “I will be starting my 40th year in education this year and I am pleased to be part of a school system whose tradition of excellence and achievement are top priority. We will continue to keep making progress while adapting to our diversity and battling through financial hardships. I applaud our teachers and students for all their hard work and dedication to making our school one of the best in the state.”

All but one school in the county system met all the goals set forth by the state standards. Belgreen High School fell just short in one area.

The state requires schools to meet 100 percent of their goals.

Franklin County Schools superintendent Gary Williams said the reason BHS did not reach the 100 percent mark is due to students dropping completely out and others not passing criteria to graduate.

“Belgreen did not make the AYP because the test tracks students from grade nine until graduation and last year they had five students to drop out and three students who actually crossed the stage at graduation but received a certification of completion instead of a diploma because they did not pass one part of the graduation exam,” Williams said. “If the school would have had two less students in either category then they would have made the AYP report.”

The report shows the graduation rate goal for BHS to be 90 percent, but since nine students were not able to graduate, the school’s rate dropped to 78 percent.

Williams said when you have a small school like BHS it makes it even more difficult to make the grade because every decision a student makes counts.

Even though Franklin County Schools as a whole made the grade, the reports indicate that county schools struggle with reading from sixth grade up.

“We have a school improvement plan in place where those who are struggling with the graduation exam will be pulled and remediated to help them pass the test and receive their diplomas on time,” he said. “Our teachers try hard to make sure every student gets the education they need to pass on to the next level. We also have a program in place that promotes staying in school and we believe that will help students to make smarter decisions about staying in school and getting their education.”

Williams said there are outstanding students and teachers in each school system giving it their very best day in and day out.

“We had a good year last year,” he said. “We have outstanding schools and some of the best personnel in those schools and they are ready to go again this year.”

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