ECMS makes AYP, ECHS falls short

Published 7:16 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Escambia County schools have worked hard to keep up their school's student performances and only two out of the 11 schools in the area did not make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).
Superintendent Billy Hines said he is proud of the schools that did make AYP and said because the schools have raised their standards, the school system is out of the school improvement category.
"I feel great," Hines said. "Last year we had six schools in school improvement and now it's down to two. That's fantastic and because of that, the entire school system is out of school improvement. We are tickled to death."
Escambia County schools that reached AYP include, A.C. Moore Elementary School, Flomaton Elementary School, Flomaton High School, Huxford Elementary School, Pollard-McCall Junior High School, Rachel Patterson Elementary School, W.S. Neal Elementary School, W.S. Neal Middle School and Escambia County Middle School.
The two schools that did not meet AYP standards include W.S. Neal High School and Escambia County High School. Neal reached 92.31 percent of its goals and ECHS reached 76.92 percent of its goals.
"We have to work on our graduation rate at Neal and ECHS and we have some measures we are doing for improvement," Hines said. "Mr. (Carl) Raley and Linda Shuford have both been receptive to improvements at the school. With the addition of a reading teacher and with the ninth grade academy, those will help with AYP. I think you'll see a lot of change with next year because both of those individuals have been very receptive for changes for the best."
Escambia County High School's principal, Carl Raley, and Linda Shuford, who has taken on the position that former assistant principal David McKinley left behind, are in the process of taking the school to a new level.
The "ninth grade academy" Hines refers to is where the ninth graders will be set off by themselves and not thrown straight into the life of a high school student. Also, the new reading teacher will help with the graduation rate. Both of these advances at ECHS will improve AYP ratings.
Raley said another problem at ECHS was the number of dropouts.
"In the dropout area, Mr. Hines has some ideas about that and a lot of those ideas concern career tech, directing those students to the vocational end of education," Raley said.
Raley said he hopes to make AYP next year and that administrators at ECHS are going to work hard throughout the year to reach this goal.
"We are going to try our very best," Raley said. "I can't guarantee anything but we are going to give it our best."
Escambia County Middle School is now out of school improvement. A school is considered to be in school improvement if they do not make AYP for two years in a row in the same component, which includes reading, mathematics or Additional Academic Indicators (AAI).
There are many qualifications schools must reach before attaining the AYP status. AYP is determined by student achievement and rates of participation on the Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test, the Alabama High School Graduation Exam and the Alabama Alternate Assessment. Schools must attain 100 percent of their AYP goals.
ECMS principal Zickeyous Byrd said throughout the year ECMS has improved in many areas in order to attain AYP status. There are different subgroups that are taken into consideration when calculating AYP ratings. The subgroups include, economic background, race and ethnicity, limited English proficiency and special education. Depending on student composition at each school, the school could have a minimum of five goals or as many as 37.
"There are 23 different areas and we made improvements in all of them," he said.
Byrd is ecstatic about reaching AYP and hopes to keep the standards high at the middle school.
"I'm still on cloud nine," Byrd said. "But we don't want to be relaxed, we want to continue to move forward. We are still going to make sure we are addressing the needs of all our students. Now is not the time for us to be relaxed, it is the time to move forward."

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