School report card mixed

By Staff
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Editor's note: This is the first in a three-part series examining the school system report card issued recently by the State Department of Education. Week one will be an overview of the results for the Hartselle City and Morgan County systems. Week two will be comparisons against other state systems and week three will be a look at results from individual schools.
Part one of three
Hartselle's school system spends slightly more per student than the state average, but less than the Morgan County System, according to a comprehensive report released last week by the State Department of Education.
The annual report card was issued last week by the state and details performance and financial information for all of the state's school systems.
The report covers a variety of topics, including test scores, funding and expenditures.
According to the report, Hartselle's system spends $6,076 per pupil per year, earning it a "C" on the state's grading scale. The state average is $6,040. The per-pupil expenditure earns the system a C minus compared to other systems in the Southeast and a D on a national scale.
Morgan County's system spends $6,705 per year per student, earning it a "B" grade, but a "C" on the Southeastern scale and a "D plus" on a national scale.
The lower per-student figure doesn't mean the city doesn't support the school system, however. In an indicator detailing the amount of local money that goes to schools, Hartselle's system received an 82.5, with anything above a 42.6 an "A." The state average is 31.59. Morgan County received 33.83. The indicator looks at the total amount of revenue collected locally and then divides that number by the value of one mill of ad valorum tax.
Other details of the report include:
* 21.2 percent of Hartselle students receive free or reduced lunch, lower than the state average of 49 percent. Thirty-eight percent of Morgan County system students receive a free lunch.
* Hartselle's drop out rate is higher than the state average, earning the system a C minus from the state. More than 18 percent of ninth graders in the Hartselle system will drop out before graduation. The drop-out rate for Morgan County is 19.3 percent, also earning a C. The state dropout average is 14 percent.
* Hartselle students scored well in all standardized tests, including the graduation exam, fifth and seventh grade writing tests and SAT test. All except the SAT score received clear ratings, the highest possible. The SAT scores earned a clear with watch rating, the second highest. The highest individual grade score came for fourth grade reading with a 76. The lowest came for fifth grade math with a 54. Fifty is the state average.
* Standardized scores were slightly lower for Morgan County students, with only the graduation exam scores earning a clear ranking. The fifth and seventh grade writing scores were clear with watch ratings and the SAT scores were clear with watch and priority, signaling lower scores in that area. The highest score was a 69 for fourth grade language. The lowest was a 43 for eighth grade mathematics.
* Hartselle students have less access to computer with the internet than their counterparts across the state. The report shows there are 4.5students per computer with internet access in the Hartselle system, compared to 5 students for the state. The number drops slightly in the county, with 4 students per computer with internet access.
* Hartselle has 195 full-time employees for 3,063 students. Morgan County has 525 full-time employees for 7,417 students.
* Sixty-one percent of Hartselle system's revenue comes from state funds, higher than the state average of 56 percent. Local funding for schools is higher that the state average, however, with 33 percent of school funding coming from local sources. That's higher than the state average of
29 percent. Hartselle's system receives 4.7 percent of its funding from federal funds, lower than the state average of 9.7 percent. Morgan County receives 66 percent of its funding from the state and 40.1 percent from local sources. It receives another 7.1 percent of its funding from the federal government.
* Thirty-six percent of Hartselle's students are in career or technical vocation classes, lower than the state average of 55 percent.
Eighty-seven of the city system's tech programs have been industry certified, earning a "B." Eighty-one percent of Hartselle's tech or career students land a job in their field of study, a number below the state average of 92 percent. Morgan County's technical and career programs fair better, with 100 percent industry certification and a 99 percent placement rate.
* The average ACT score in Hartselle's system is a 21.2, earning it a C plus grade. The state average is 20. Morgan County's average is 20.2.
* More than 98 percent of Hartselle students passed the graduation exam, earning an A minus from the state. Ninety-four percent of Morgan
County students passed the test, for a B grade. The state average is 92. 5 percent.
* Special education students at both systems beat the state average.
Special education students are evaluated based on their Individual Education Programs, or IEPs. Of the 21 Hartselle students tested, 95 percent met or exceeded their IEP goals. Thirty-five students were tested in Morgan County, with 83 percent meeting or exceeding goal. The state average is 68 percent.

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