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County schools do not meet all state standards

Escambia County Schools did not meet all of their academic standards set by the state because reading scores from special education students were too low, according to results released by the state department of education Monday.

Brewton City Schools did meet their goals, according to the state reports.

County school officials said Monday they have already been putting a plan in place to address the concerns with test scores.

“We have set the gears in motion,” Superintendent Billy Hines said.

County schools that did not make AYP include Escambia County High School, Escambia County Middle School, W.S. Neal Middle School and W.S. Neal High School.

Schools are graded based on math and reading scores for the overall student population and for certain subgroups, including special education, race designations and free and reduced lunch.

At some schools, reading or math scores from special education students were also too low to meet state standards, but the number of students in that subgroup did not meet the threshold of 40 students.

At W.S. Neal High School, the school showed improvement in its graduation rate — which has been a problem in years past — but did not meet proficiency goals in reading for students overall or for students on free and reduced lunch.

Assistant Superintendent Mary Bess Powell said school officials will be working closely with administrators and teachers at W.S. Neal, where a new principal is expected to be hired Aug. 12 to replace the late Phillip Ellis, who died of cancer last month.

“It’s been a very stressful year at W.S. Neal High School,” Powell siad, giving credit to interim principal Patty Frazier. “She has worked very hard,” Powell said, but Ellis’ death “impacted everything that school.”

Escambia County High School will be in a phase the state department calls “school improvement” for the fourth year and must offer school choice to students, Escambia County Schools Assistant Superintendent Mary Bess Powell said. Anyone interested in the school choice opportunity must fill out a form at the high school or the Atmore central office.

The school improvement designation also requires restructuring, including hiring a new principal, which the school system has already accomplished with new principal Zykeous Byrd.

The school system has also increased the ranks of its improvement specialists, educators who will work closely with teachers and students at the schools that most need attention. Powell said the educators are committed to a “team effort” to improve student performance.

“We’re not going to let any of our kids fall through the cracks,” Powell said.