Pike Co. schools seek to

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 12, 2000

‘make academics count’


Staff Writer

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Dec. 11, 2000 10 PM

Making Academics Count is what educators in Pike County are trying to do.

Mark Bazzell, assistant superintendent of the Pike County Schools, told the Exchange Club of Troy about the initiative created by educators and the Pike County Chamber of Commerce that will kick off early next year.

"We believe this program will make a difference for the students," Bazzell said.

Prior to the mid-1980s, students in Alabama did not have to take a high school exit exam. Then, in the early 1990s, a task force was formed with the purpose of evaluating the exit exam and increasing the requirements necessary to graduate from high school.

Much has changed since then.

"Alabama has the toughest graduation requirements in the nation," Bazzell said.

Since the state upgraded the standards for Alabama’s high school students, "things started moving quickly," said Bazzell, who served on that task force.

Now, high school students in Alabama’s public schools have a "choice" of nine different "diplomas" and the Alabama Independent Schools Association offers private school students a choice between regular and advanced diplomas.

The nine different exit credentials are: the Alabama High School Diploma, Alabama High School Diploma with Career Technical Education Endorsement, Alabama High School Diploma with Advanced Academic Endorsement, Alabama High School Diploma with Advanced Career Technical Education Endorsement, Alabama High School Diploma with Academy Endorsement, Alabama Adult Alternative Diploma, Alabama Occupational Diploma, Alabama Certificate of Course Completion and Alabama Certificate of Graduation/Attendance.

Because of the differences in the exit credentials, educators are working to inform employers of those variations, which is the purpose of Making Academics Count.

"It’s (the initiative) about opening the diploma cover," Bazzell said. "If you don’t take the time to open the diploma cover, you won’t know."

In educating employers, Bazzell expects the initiative to have impact among the students.

For example, if an employer requests a copy of a potential employees’ transcript or copy of a diploma, that will show them academics do matter. Bazzell said schools will also add attendance information so the employers will know what to expect.

"I think it will make a difference," Bazzell said. "We are committed to do the things to make this work."