Calera High proves success in new program

In a surprise reception for Calera High School administration and faculty, Randy Fuller praised their efforts in achieving the highest graduation rate in the Shelby County Schools system.

Administration and faculty at Calera High School, former and present, have reason to be very proud of themselves.

The school has the highest graduation rate — 97.75 percent — among all high schools in the Shelby County Schools system.

In a congratulatory reception Aug. 9, Shelby County Board of Education Superintendent Randy Fuller praised their efforts and hard work. Fuller encouraged the faculty and administration to keep doing what has proven successful.

The graduation rate involves tracking freshmen for four years via unique identification numbers, to see not only if they graduate, but if they do so on time. It is a fundamental indicator as to whether our public school system is doing what is intended — enroll, engage and educate the youth of this nation to become productive citizens.

Dropping out of school is a gradual process of disengagement. Knowing this can be reversed with more relevant learning experiences and social and emotional interactions at school, volunteer teachers at Calera High invest hours upon hours with students who elect to participate in a program that mentors, tutors and encourages them to finish school.

The investment paid off for the 2010 class.

After researching other school systems in Alabama, I found Shelby County boasts the highest graduation rate among public schools; the overall rate for our state is 87 percent.

In addition to owning the highest graduation rate, the high school succeeded in passing Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). For schools not making AYP, Dr. Elizabeth Davis, LEA School Improvement Specialist for Shelby County Schools, explained their disadvantage.

“Schools have subgroups, i.e. black, white, Hispanic, special education, free/reduced meals. If the subgroup consists of 40 or more, their data is reported for AYP status. If less than 40 their data is still calculated, but it is not calculated in AYP status,” Davis said.

Davis said this reporting can be unfair to some schools because some subgroups are more populated in the larger schools, depending on the socio-economics of the community.

Prior, to the reception, Johnny’s Café provided lunch. Debbie Jones, special education instructor, appreciated the delicious lunch.

“It was all so good. The roasted chicken was cooked to perfection and the corn muffins were delicious. The peach bread pudding was out of this world. I’d like to have it again soon,” Jones said.

Calera High School strives to provide a positive learning experience through quality teaching, a safe environment and curriculum that meets the diverse individual needs of all students, as well as maintaining accountability for demonstrated results and positive improvements.

Mollie Brown can be reached at