CULLMAN — Most local schools met the standards set in the state’s annual report card announced Thursday, though a handful failed to make the cut.
Cullman City Schools met all Adequate yearly progress (AYP) goals, set forth by the federal No Child Left Behind act, while the Cullman County Board of Education failed to make systemwide AYP.
The county system is now entering year two of school improvement, after falling short in similar areas last year.
Across Alabama, 75 percent of schools made adequate yearly progress, up from 73 percent last year — though standards for 2012 remained at the 2011 level thanks to a federal waiver.
The AYP report uses math scores, reading scores, attendance rates and graduation rates to determine how systems across the state are progressing. But, this could be the last year AYP is used to measure school achievement in Alabama, as state education officials have asked the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver to replace adequate yearly progress with a new state-developed assessment program called Plan 2020.
A change in the way graduation rates are averaged also made for some interesting dynamics this year.
Cullman High School averaged a 91 percent graduation rate for the school year — among the best in the state — though the average slid slightly from 93 percent last year, under the new formula.
The graduation rate in the county system fell to 73 percent — down 7 points from 80 percent last year. But, officials say the rate actually improved, once the new formula is applied to both years.
Both systems beat the state average of 72 percent.
“This year they changed the formula to a more rigorous formula, based on students having four years to graduate,” CCBOE curriculum coordinator Susan Patrick said. “Under the new formula, our rate last year would have actually been 62 percent, so we increased to 73 percent under this formula.”
Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris said she was proud to see the system's already high marks climb higher with the 2012 data.
"All schools as well as the Cullman City School system made AYP this year," she said via e-mail. "I am proud of our students' performance. Our students work very hard and have dedicated teachers, principals and staff members who continue to lead them to greater levels of student achievement. Test scores this year are at a record high. We are thankful for these results while remembering that tomorrow is a new day for learning."
Though the majority of county schools made the overall grade, five of the system’s 27 schools did not. The Child Development Center (Reading goals, Graduation Rate, Additional Academic Indicators), Fairview High School (Reading goals), Good Hope High School (Reading goals), Hanceville High School (Graduation rate, Additional Academic Indicators) and Holly Pond High School (Reading goals) all failed to meet AYP in the 2011-2012 school year.
All county schools may not have met every goal, but almost every student level showed improvement in proficiency in subjects such as math and reading.
“We showed a tremendous improvement and we’re very proud of the progress we’ve made,” CCBOE Superintendent Billy Coleman said. “We’ve done some things this year with reading coaches, and that’s something we’re carrying into the high school level now. Teachers came and bought in, and showed dramatic individual improvement, which validates those programs and is really exciting.”
Coleman noted two particular subgroups predominant in the system, at-risk students and special education, as a major factor in the system not hitting the overall goals.
“We have a large population of special education and at-risk students, and the special education subgroup is what caused us not to make AYP,” he explained. “But those students did make some improvements, and we’re extremely proud of that. But everyone is held to the same competency levels, and they didn’t reach that point. We always need to continue working to improve.”
‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.