Schools make the grade|Brewton, East Brewton schools pass all but one state goal

Published 10:31 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

By By Kerry Whipple Bean

Brewton City and Escambia County Schools achieved all of their academic goals according to state No Child Left Behind standards, although the graduation rate for two of the county high schools remains an area for improvement.
W.S. Neal High School and Flomaton High School missed the graduation rate goal. For W.S. Neal, it was the second year the school missed meeting that state standard.
Escambia County High School met its graduation rate goal and improved enough on other academic goals to meet its overall academic standards, known as adequate yearly progress, or AYP.
All Brewton City Schools and both W.S. Neal Elementary and Middle School achieved AYP.
For the state’s No Child Left Behind standards, the graduation rate is a formula based on the students who graduate from high school within four years.
Hines said all of the county’s high schools will benefit from new programs and even a new law aimed at halting the dropout rate.
This past spring, the state Legislature passed a new law that requires students to be 17 before they can drop out of school. That can help keep students on track, Hines said.
Other efforts to curb the dropout rate include credit recovery, a program in which students who are failing can enter a remedial class during the school year, before they actually fail the class and lose the credit.
The school system also has received a grant for after-school tutorial programs to help students stay on grade level, he said.
Hines pointed out that both high schools that did not meet graduation rate goals were within 5 percent of making the goal.
Brewton City Schools Superintendent Lynn Smith said he was pleased with the students’ performance, noting that in most categories and subgroups, students’ scores improved from year to year.
Students in third through eighth grade area measured based on performance on standardized tests, and at the high school level, the performance of juniors taking the high school graduation exam is measured.
Each year, the proficiency index by which students’ scores are measured increases, but those increases have been staggered so far, Smith said. That means that the proficiency index has increased for every other grade.
But next year, Smith said, all grade levels will have to show improvement each year.
While schools met their academic goals this year, Escambia County Assistant Superintendent Mary Bess Powell said administrators and students will dig deep into the test results to see which areas and which students need the most improvement.
Each school receives scores based on certain subgroups, divided by race or economic factors. While a subgroup’s performance affects overall adequate yearly progress only if 40 or more students are in that subgroup, teachers are looking at how each student performs.
Throughout the year, teachers and administrators hold grade level meetings to discuss students’ progress and share ideas, Powell said.
While the No Child Left Behind law — the reason behind Monday’s annual progress report for schools — has its flaws, Powell said the standards and goals the state has set to meet the law force schools to pay attention to the performance of every student.