Six county schools placed on academic watch

Shelby County has no schools on the state Department of Education’s priority list for failure to meet academic standards. However, six county schools were placed on academic watch.

The Shelby County Board of Education got the news during its Aug. 22 meeting at the Central Office Building in Columbiana.

Schools placed on academic watch include Elvin Hill Elementary, Shelby Elementary, Vincent Elementary, Wilsonville Elementary, Vincent Middle School and Shelby County High School.

At the elementary and middle school level, academic watch is based on the percentage of the schools’ students not meeting state academic standards on the Alabama Direct Assessment of Writing.

Schools make the list when less than 20 percent of students meet standards in grade five or less than 24 percent meet standards in grade seven.

Elvin Hill Elementary had 8.4 percent meet state standards for grade five; Shelby County Elementary had 18.6 percent; Vincent Elementary had 13.64 percent; and Wilsonville Elementary had 3.85 percent.

Vincent Middle School had 15.07 percent of students meet state standards for seventh grade.

At the high school level, a school is placed on academic watch when only between 80 and 90 percent of seniors pass all required subject areas. In addition, the school’s drop-out rate must be higher than the state average of 15.59 percent.

Shelby County High School came in with 81.9 percent of students passing the Alabama Graduation Exam and a drop-out rate of 20.68 percent.

According to Susan Seng, counseling and testing specialist for Shelby County Schools, no action is taken against schools on academic watch. It is just a matter of keeping a watch on the situation.

However, she said, every Shelby County school has already written an improvement plan to close the gap and &uot;the focus is on writing.&uot;

She also said the school system has held writing workshops and will continue to do so.

According to the Shelby County Board of Education, secondary school tutoring programs are in place, remediation classes are available at all schools, computer software for academic remediation is in place at all high schools and has been purchased for all middle schools and dropout prevention programs such as the Success Program and Project Advantage have been implemented at the middle school level.

Academic priority is the status given schools for the following reasons:

In grades three through eight, students score an overall average of less than 30 percent on the Stanford Achievement test.

In grades five and seven, a school has no student to meet or exceed Alabama Direct Assessment of Writing standards.

At the high school level, a school has less than 80 percent of its seniors pass the state’s

graduation exam.

Schools placed on academic priority will be offered a variety of services for staff professional development by the state Board of Education, said Seng.

According to the Shelby County Board of Education, however, during the past five years, Shelby County has surpassed both state and national averages across all grades and subjects.

The state average for seniors passing the High School Graduation Exam was 90.3, and Shelby County had a 98 percent passing rate.

During the past several years Shelby County students have shown consistent improvement in achievement test scores as well