Schools work to meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals

Published 11:26 pm Monday, August 3, 2009

Concentrated efforts by Shelby County Schools’ teachers and staff boosted Adequate Yearly Progress scores at several schools and allowed the district as a whole to meet AYP goals for the third year in a row.

“We are really proud of the collaborative efforts of our teachers and administrators throughout the system,” said Superintendent Randy Fuller. “It is a true indication of how hard they have worked this year to make sure that our students were well prepared.”

Several schools that missed AYP last year, including Shelby County High School, Thompson High School, Valley Elementary School and Valley Intermediate School, brought their scores back into good standing.

Fuller credited the district’s Continuous School Improvement (CSI) process for the schools’ improved performance. Through the CSI process teachers meet in professional learning communities to review assessment data and develop goals and instructional strategies for their schools.

School Improvement Specialist Elizabeth Davis said focusing on the CSI process truly made a difference.

“Every school goes through this process whether you make AYP or not,” Davis said. “Once a school’s improvement plan is made, it is then paired with an instructional staff member that does a walk through once a month to ensure the plan is being implemented. That’s been huge.”

Montevallo High School made AYP for a second year in a row, which brings them out of school improvement status.

Davis credits retired MHS Principal Judy Simmons for the school’s improvement.

“She charted each students’ scores on tests, absenteeism, tardiness and behavior issues,” Davis said. “They looked at all of the risk factors and met with teachers to look at which of their students fell into them. Efforts like these keep kids from dropping out.”

MHS implemented “Do Over Days” where students could redo assignments not completed. Davis said this strategy teaches students they are responsible for completing work and can’t simply take a zero.

The school also sent out progress reports every three weeks. When the grades came out a teacher sat down with a small group of students to discuss any problem spots.

Only Chelsea High School and the Linda Nolen Learning Center missed AYP goals this year. Davis said both schools are dealing with lower graduation rates. At CHS, teachers will begin a Freshman Forum class this year. This course is aimed at helping freshman learn the skills needed for high school — goal setting, organization, time management and career planning.

Meanwhile, a think tank of teachers and administrators are meeting to look at options for the LNLC.

This school continues to have problems with graduation rates. The school serves many students with severe special needs, Davis said. She attributes its low graduation rates to the fact that many students age out of the school.

“That school is so unique in the programs it offers to its students,” Davis said. “Right now we are trying to determine what solutions would be best for the students. We of course don’t want the school to move into year three or four of school improvement, but we don’t want to make changes that would change the great work they do.”

Davis said additional strategies would be developed to help improve reading and math scores for LNLC students.