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Grading our schools

By Staff
Grad exam scores higher, drop out rate lower in latest school results
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
If good report cards belong on the family refrigerator, you can expect lots of full Frigidaire fronts throughout Hartselle in coming weeks.
The Alabama Department of Education recently released its annual report cards for school systems throughout the state. Hartselle's system again posted strong scores on a variety of indicators, with all three elementary schools and Hartselle High School meeting all state-mandated requirements. Hartselle Junior High achieved 12 of 15 goals.
While Hartselle's system has always boasted high scores in standardized testing, some of the biggest strides this year were seen in reducing the drop out rate and improving performance on the high school graduation exam.
The improvement was the result of concentrated efforts in those areas, according to HHS Principal Jerry Reeves.
"We were pleased with the results of the report card," Reeves said. "We've made every effort to channel students that are potential drop outs into the alternative school and the GED program. And, the occupational diploma has certainly helped those students. It keeps them motivated and keeps them in school."
Hartselle High School's drop out rate this year was 11.72 percent, down from 18.24 percent the year before. The state drop out rate is 13.30 percent. For Hartselle, that's an improvement to a B minus from last year's C minus.
The state determines the drop out rate by examining the number of ninth grade students who are projected to leave school prior to graduation.
Strides were also made in increasing the number of students successfully completing the High School Graduation Exam, a test that must be passed in order for students to graduate. Reeves attributes much of the improvement in these scores to the remediation program taught by Leah Blackwood.
Reeves said the remediation program – which provides daily tutoring with students who are struggling with the graduation exam – was stopped several years ago because of funding cuts. Hartselle's School Board later reinstated the funding and the program was restarted.
"Now, it's fully funded and we are certainly reaping the rewards," Reeves said.
This year, the state report card shows the scores of high school juniors, as well as seniors. Scores are shown for reading, language, math, science and social studies.
The remediation program is offered to all juniors who have not passed three, four or five portions of the exam and to all seniors who have failed any portion.
The report card shows 100 percent of 12th graders passed the reading and science portion of the tests, up from 97.84 eleventh graders in reading and 96.76 in science, respectively.
The greatest improvement was seen in the math portion of the test where 89.19 of juniors passed the test. That number improved to 98.88 for seniors.