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County's schools receive report card from state

By By PAUL KEANE – Special to The Standard
A new, more-detailed report card on public schools in the state places Escambia County schools in a favorable light when compared to surrounding school districts.
On Thursday, the Alabama Department of Education released the 2001-2002 school report cards. Complete scores for all the schools is available at www.alsde.edu under "reports" or "school info." The reports cards detail everything from teacher qualifications to disciplinary actions to testing data and student spending.
Escambia County stacked up well against surrounding school districts in a number of categories. In career/technical training, the district received an "A," with most other school districts in South Alabama receiving similar scores.
In Stanford Achievement Testing, Escambia County earned a "B-minus," which also was similar to surrounding districts. In the graduation exam category, local schools earned a D, the lowest grade among testing factors for the school. It was also one of the few categories where Escambia County trailed other school districts.
The dropout rate in the county earned a grade of "C," which was ahead of Mobile County's "C-minus," "F" grades for Conecuh County, Covington County and Choctaw County but behind the "B-minus" grade given to Brewton City Schools.
In the ACT test, Escambia earned a "C-minus," ahead of about half the school districts in South Alabama. In grade 5 writing assessment, local schools earned a "D-plus," while in grade 7 writing assessment the grade jumped up to a "C-plus."
In the Alabama Alternate Assessment category, Escambia earned an "A," which was equal to or better than the other districts in the region.
A few glaring issues beyond the control of the district dealt with funding and taxes for schools. In state funding, Escambia County received a "B-minus," ahead of all but one other district in the area, that being Wilcox County. In per pupil spending compared to the Southeast, Escambia earned a "C," which was comparable to many of the surrounding districts. In taxes, Escambia earned a "C-minus," while most of the surrounding districts earned grades of "F."
Superintendent of Schools Melvin "Buck" Powell said the scores show that the district is improving and heading in the right direction.
Powell also pointed out that students and parents have to receive a good share of the credit for the improvements.
Powell said the improvements over the last reporting period will hopefully spur students on to keep moving in a positive direction.
And Powell pointed out there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Powell said the high grade in per-pupil spending on a local level is deceiving right now considering the shaky ground that funding is on right now.