Huxford selected for rural study

Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

By By MaryClaire Foster
Huxford Elementary is one of 10 rural schools in the state being recognized for its outstanding performance despite high poverty levels and will be part of a study focusing on how these schools have achieved such results in the face of adversity.
The study is being conducted through a partnership with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries’ Center for Rural Alabama and the ALFA Foundation.
Huxford was chosen for the study out of seven other county schools that also displayed high performance levels despite poverty disadvantages. The poverty levels were determined by the amount of free-reduced lunches. HES is in the 70 percent range.
Data from the Alabama Department of Education shows that students who qualify for free-reduced lunches score significantly lower on reading and math than non-poverty students. For example, only 19 percent of sixth-graders on free-reduced lunches score at level 4 on math, while 46 percent of non-poverty students score at level 4.
Huxford was the final choice because it simply out did the other schools in performance.
Lee is one of three study team members who will be collecting data from the school.
Dr. Owen Sweatt, an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama and a former principal at Fayette Elementary, and Gerald Carter, principal with Carter &Associates and an expert in how personality impacts behavior, are the other two members to comprise the group.
Lee will be in charge of collecting data from the external environment affecting the school, which includes the community, Parent Teacher Organization and parents. He will look into what the community and parents are doing to support the school and review the extent of their involvement.
Donna Silcox, principal at Huxford, said these external factors are one of the biggest reasons her school excels.
Silcox added that strong ties stemming from many children being fourth and fifth generation students at Huxford help community support.
Sweatt will head up study of the internal environment, which includes teachers working relationships as well as administrators and faculty-student relationships.
Silcox said the faculty-student relationship is the other reason behind their high performance.
The final aspect of the school to be studied is faculty personality traits.
Carter, a Myers-Briggs expert, will be interviewing and testing teachers and administrators to look for a personality commonality between them and other schools in the study.
Sparks said this study comes at a significant time when employers are looking for a better educated employee pool.

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