School system looks to improve

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Butler County Schools had some good news to report when the Alabama State Department of Education released its 2004-05 Adequate Yearly Progress Report.

AYP, according to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, is the term used to describe whether a school has met its annual accountability goals in reading, math and attendance and/or dropout rates. The goals are measured for the school as a whole as well as for specific groups of students.

Each category, reading, math and the additional academic indicator

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(attendance or dropout rate), is made up of several sub-groups. Some of these sub-groups are special education students, white students, black students, and students on free or reduced meals. If a specific sub-group does not reach the required proficiency goal or "clear" percentage, the entire school goes into "School Improvement" in that category.

According to Superintendent Mike Looney, two out of Butler County's seven schools met AYP this past year, which is up from the 03-04 school year.

"We have five schools in School Improvement," Looney said. "Clearly, we are not where we want to be, but we have a good foundation to build upon. R.L. Austin Elementary and McKenzie High School made 100 percent AYP, which is two years in a row for R.L. Austin."

"Because of NCLB, it is a constant effort of improvement toward 100 percent," Looney explained.

"Our faculties have worked hard to identify students who need remediation in certain categories. We have adopted the 'Whatever it takes' motto to reach perfect attendance and good grades."

Greenville High School met all of its AYP goals in math, but fell slightly short in reading and in the additional academic indicator, which, for them, is the dropout rate.

"We met 14 out of 17 goals," Dr. Kathy Murphy, GHS principal, said. "In 03-04, we met eight out of 17 goals, so we are really proud of that improvement.

However, we are busy addressing these issues already.

We have a school-improvement team in place that is scheduled to meet with those students who need remediation.

Our counselors will be setting up conferences with our at-risk students in order to lower the dropout rate. In addition, we are putting together a parent involvement team because it is so important to have the parents' support.

We need our parents to get involved. I'm disappointed that we're not at 100 percent in all of the categories, but I am very proud of the efforts and energy of our faculty at GHS. And, the leadership and enthusiasm Mr. Looney has brought to this school system is amazing.

It is so nice to be encouraged."

Georgiana High School had several areas of improvement as well. It met 15 out of 17 goals; Georgiana made AYP on the dropout rate, but barely missed it in reading and math.

"I'm a competitor, especially since I'm coming out of the coaching ranks," Keith York, Georgiana High School principal, said. "We have already met with our student body and explained the goals of meeting AYP this year.

The faculty is working with the students one-on-one to see what each child needs individually in order to improve.

We are working hard to make the students understand just how important this is."

At Greenville Middle School, AYP was obtained in attendance rate but not in reading or math.

"Parents get frustrated with everything by the middle school years," GMS Principal Jai Hill said. " Our counselors are going into the community to work one-on-one with parents.

We call this a 'grassroots' effort' that will target the sub-groups that need improvement. Also, we have our curriculum framework in place,

with the faculty following the Alabama State Course of Study's objectives.

We are going to track our library check-outs and use it as a monitoring tool to put together a reading program to help meet our reading proficiency goals."

Greenville Elementary School and W.O. Parmer made AYP in attendance rate, but not in reading or mathematics. In 03-04, both schools met 13 out of 17 goals, while during this past year, they met 16 out of 21 goals. The reading proficiency goal was just barely missed for 04-05.

"We are in a great position with the administrators in this school system," Looney said, "and Wayne Boswell can be thanked for handling things so well during a transition period."

"Even though we're not ultimately where we want to be, we have a good starting point and lots of good employees.

There are great things ahead for this system."