Byrd speaks to Rotarians

Published 8:27 am Monday, August 27, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
The Atmore Rotarians learned a lot of information about Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) and the Escambia County Middle Preparatory School at their Tuesday afternoon meeting as ECMS principal Zickeyous Byrd filled them with news of the school.
Byrd said the school has finally made it out the seven-year period of being in the school improvement category. 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).
"After seven long years, we have made our goals," Byrd said.
Byrd said that ECMS has more goals than any other school in Escambia County.
Now that the school is out of school improvements and have made all their goals to meet AYP, Byrd said maintenance is key. One way of maintaining the high levels of achievement at ECMS is the Escambia County Middle Preparatory School (ECMPS).
"What we are introducing to this county for this year and many years to come is a school within a school," Byrd said.
ECMPS is a program which offers students in middle school the opportunity to take high school level courses.
There are many objectives of the ECMPS. The first objective is to continue setting high expectations for ECMS students. The second is to continue to offer more courses to advanced students and Byrd wants to be able to include all students, not just eighth graders. The third objective is to continue providing motivation for every student. The fourth is continue to provide a "selling point" for the school district as well as the city of Atmore and the fifth point is to reduce the risk of future school improvement status.
"We don't want to go down, we want to continue to move up," Byrd said.
Byrd said the ECMPS targets students who are driven, those that desire an "accelerated, structured, formal school environment." However, Byrd wants to reach every student with ECMPS.
"Our goal is to target everyone," he said.
The students of ECMPS are not the only ones who have to be driven to complete the courses.
"The parents had to sign a commitment form," Byrd said. "We wanted the parents to know exactly what we expected from them. Without any funding, the parents have to bring the students to the school. We didn't have a bus to go pick up these children. The students get there at 6:45 for breakfast and at 7 classes start. We haven't had a child tardy yet."
There are expected outcomes of the ECMPS students. Those outcomes include, students who have been challenged according to their potential, students who have excelled in future course work and students who have been exposed to material that will be on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Also, ECMPS students will have the opportunity to take more advanced courses when they reach high school because some of their core classes will be out of the way. This also means these students may be able to enter college earlier than other students.
Students who are interesting in being a part of the Preparatory School must go through a selection process.
"Students must complete an application process prior to admission," Byrd said. "All applicants will be screened and parents and students will be notified."
For more information on ECMS or ECMPS, visit

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