Cullman Electric Cooperative

Cullman Electric Cooperative Foreman Tildon Corley speaks with Cold Springs eighth grader Nicholas White during the 2018 Career Awareness Fair at Wallace State Community College.

The Alabama State Board of Education is placing an increased focus on college and career readiness for high school graduates, and both of Cullman County’s School Systems have seen improvements in that field over the last few years.

In new data compiled by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, both the Cullman City and County School Systems ranked highly in the state in terms of 2018 graduates’ college and career readiness.

In the report, the Cullman County School system ranked at 18th out of 138 measured school systems in the state, with a graduation rate of 93.7 percent and 90.3 percent of its students demonstrating college and career readiness.

The Cullman City School System had a graduation rate of 93 percent and a college and career readiness rate of of 89.1 percent — good for 20th in the state. 

Both systems were above the statewide graduation rate of 90 percent, and they were both well above the state college and career readiness rate of 75 percent.

For a student to be determined to be ready for college or a career, they must score college ready in at least one subject on the ACT, score at the silver level or above on the WorkKeys Assessment, earn a passing score on an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Exam, successfully earn a Career Technical Education credential, earn dual enrollment credit at a college or university or successfully enlist in the military.

Cold Springs High School and West Point High School were the two schools in the county that had a 0 percent gap between their graduation rates and college and career readiness, meaning all graduates from the two schools were ready to enter college or the workforce when they graduated. 

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Shane Barnette said the numbers for both school systems show the emphasis that is being placed not just on graduating students, but making sure they are ready for their future lives.

“I was really excited to see that in both of our school systems,” he said. 

He said that emphasis reflects a national trend of showing students that they can go to a four-year college after high school, but if that isn’t the path they don’t want to take, they can still get the training or certification that will allow them to find a good job in their communities.

“We want to be able to make sure the kids are ready to make that next step,” he said. 

Barnette said Cullman County’s graduation rate has gone up nearly 10 percent over the last three years, and its college and career readiness rate is also higher than ever. 

He gave credit to the teachers and administrators at each of the county’s schools, as well as the parents and families of Cullman County’s students, for pushing and encouraging the area’s students to perform better than ever, and said the students have also stepped up and met those higher expectations.

Members of the community have also shown their support in getting students prepared for life after high school, and with the number of industries that are here or coming to Cullman and North Alabama, that means there is plenty of opportunity for students to find good jobs right here, Barnette said.

“I think this a testament to our community,” he said. “They know the value of a good education, and it shows.”

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