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Troy schools net satisfactory rating

Staff Writer

Dec. 4, 1999 10 PM

According the the Alabama Department of Education, the Troy City School System scores a "C" based on student Stanford Achievement Test scores.

The rating, following the A-F formula given out by schools, rates Troy as satisfactory, but the rating is down from 1997 and 1998.

The school system is doing a good job educating children here, but improvement is needed in some areas, according to school officials.

"We performed at least average and want to do better," said Toni Stetson, administrative assistant to the superintendent for Troy City Schools. "The state tests students in certain areas and looks at how they did as far as the school’s accountability."

The report card details achievement indicators – scores on the Stanford Achievement Test, High School Exit Exam, Writing Tests and ACT. Other indicators, including enrollment, average daily attendance, funding and financial assistance, are also detailed.

Scores were given for 1999, 1998 and 1997 in tables to allow for comparison. To see the report on the internet, go to http://157.149.1.31/reportcard/systemrc.asp to get more information.

The report leads with Troy students’ scores for the Stanford Achievement Test.

The test average battery score of third through 11th graders has declined over the past three years from 53 in 1997 to 48 in 1998 and 47 in 1999, according to the report card.

Although these scores show a declining pattern, the students’ SAT performance is average, Stetson said.

More importantly, the school system received a "clear" rating the past three years on its Stanford Achievement Test scores. This means its scores are high enough not to warrant state intervention, she said.

Stetson pointed out Troy’s Achievement/Ability Comparison for the Stanford Achievement Test, which was a B minus in 1999, a C plus in 1998 and a B minus in 1997.

"We have done average or better each year with the students we have to work with," Stetson said. "All of these scores represent a different group of children each year in that the fifth graders in 1998 will be reported as sixth graders in 1999 but the report compares scores for each grade for the separate years."

The Department of Education’s report shows that a lot of things are being done right in Troy City Schools, said Superintendent Hank Jones.

The report’s listing of average daily attendance is good, Jones said. It shows 96.6 percent of students went to class in 1999. This figure is a slight increase from 1998.

Enrollment is also steady for the reporting period, declining slightly from 2,192 in 1998 to 2,186 in 1999. Enrollment in 1997 was listed at 2,217.

Although the report shows a decline in enrollment over the past three years, Jones said more than 2,300 students are enrolled in city schools for the 1999-2000 academic year.

Besides the number of students coming to class, the superintendent said he is extremely pleased with the quality of teachers in city schools.

The report shows 70 percent of Troy’s teachers have advanced certification of a masters or sixth year degree.

Besides these details, the report shows a high percentage of seniors are passing the High School Exit Exam.

In 1999, 96.2 percent of seniors passed the reading portion of the test. In the area of language, 93.7 seniors passed while 95 percent passed the math. These scores show an increase from the previous year.

Although the school system is doing well in several areas, the report card shows other educational aspects that need improvement.

"We need to work on the standardized tests (SAT) and writing assessments," Jones said. "Although scores in fifth and seventh grades equaled or exceeded state averages, this is something all teachers need to work on.

"Learning to write starts in kindergarten." Stetson added, "A lot of students and parents don’t see the need for good writing skills in our technical age."

The Writing Tests score gives fifth graders a B in narrative, a C in descriptive and a D plus in expository writing, the report states. This shows marked improvement from the 1998 scores of C minus, F and C minus for the respective tests.

Results were also listed from the seventh graders’ writing test, which dropped from 1998 to 1999. In 1998, seventh graders got a B in narrative, a C minus in descriptive, a D plus in expository and a D plus in persuasive writing. The 1999 scores were B, B minus, C and B minus for the respective tests.

While the writing test shows if students are performing at the correct grade level, the ACT tests if students will succeed at the college level.

Troy’s ACT scores of 18.89 fall below state and national averages on the test. The state ACT average score is 20.2, and the national average is 21, according to the report.

"We have a large number of students who take the ACT who probably won’t be successful in college, but because we live in a college town, many of these students think they are supposed to go to college," Jones said.

He explained that these students’ scores bring down the system’s average.

Whether you look at the ACT or Stanford Achievement Test, below average funding may be one reason Troy’s scores are less than other schools in some categories, Jones said.

"We don’t have much money to work with," he said. "We’re using the dollars we currently get wisely."

Jones pointed out that 58 percent of students in the Troy City Schools System are on free or reduced lunch program.

"This means that many children here come from low income hones, which is not bad," he said. "It just means those children have less opportunities.

"This is a factor for everyone in Alabama. Poor children have a tougher time.

"Their opportunities are much less than students from affluent homes as far as the amount of books, magazines and cultural experiences they are exposed to," Jones said. "They are not read to as much."

The superintendent said the school system is working to continue to improve the education it offers area students.

"We recognize we need to improve, but these scores are one measure on a given day," Jones said. "We can’t control what happened before the children came to school on the test day."