Local school systems improve on state ‘report cards’

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Alabama Department of Education has released its annual school system report card and both Troy and Pike County school systems have improved from last year.

Each system improved by three overall points based on a variety of indicators. Troy City Schools rose from an 82 to an 85, while Pike County Schools rose from a 79 to an 82.

Troy City Schools’ improvement was anchored largely by an increase in academic growth, graduation rate and college and career readiness as well as a sharp decline in chronic absenteeism.

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“It’s a credit to our teachers and administrators at the schools, and to our students who responded to the adjustments we’ve made,” said Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools. “As we have stated, (the criteria) are ever-changing. It’s going to be changing again soon. We have to keep pushing forward and control what we can control; everything else should take care of itself.”

The school system reached it’s highest graduation rate in recent history at 93.96 percent. When Hicks arrived in 2011, the graduation rate was 58 percent. For the last several years, the graduation rate has hovered between 88 to 90 percent.

The school system declined slightly in the “academic achievement” indicator, falling from 65.3 percent to 63.51 percent. But the system improved in academic growth, from 92.04 percent to 95.27 percent. Academic growth and graduation rate are the most heavily weighed indicators in determining the overall score.

College and career readiness continues to improve in the system, rising from 70.31 percent of students college and career ready last year to 74.5 percent prepared for the next chapter.

Chronic absenteeism dropped from 25.35 percent to 15.79 percent. Hicks said communication between teachers, students and parents helped to improve the score.

Pike County Schools also saw a sizeable decline in chronic absenteeism, with increases in graduation rate, college and career readiness, and academic growth.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell said he is glad to see the school system improve, but that the report is only a glimpse of what the school system does.

“I’ve never been a fan of aggregating the various scores and creating a letter grade, especially when you’re looking at a very small set of data points,” Bazzell said. “For example, with the elementary schools you’re looking at three data points: academic achievement, academic growth and chronic absenteeism. High schools just add college and career readiness and graduation rate. The state has tried hard to create a system that informs parents and stakeholders of how well schools are doing. But looking at the actual numerical values student by student, you can see we’re continuing to trend in a positive direction.”

The graduation rate within Pike County Schools grew from 85 percent to 90.3 percent over the previous year, while academic growth grew from 81.7 percent to 85.29 percent.

The system also made substantial improvement in college and career readiness, increasing from 75.46 percent of students being college and career ready to 80 percent.

Chronic absenteeism dropped from 18.56 percent to 12.28 percent.

More details on each school system can be found at https://www.alsde.edu/dept/erc/pages/home.aspx.