Alabaster graduation rate, AP enrollment on rise

The Alabaster School System has seen a spike in its graduation rate over the past few years, according to system leaders. (File)

The Alabaster School System has seen a spike in its graduation rate over the past few years, according to system leaders. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Enrollment in Advanced Placement classes and graduation rates have risen significantly over the past few years in the Alabaster City School System, Board of Education members said during a Feb. 23 work session.

During the work session, ACS Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction Cena Davis updated the School Board on the system’s academic progress since the city school system formed in July 2013.

During her presentation, Davis said enrollment in Advanced Placement classes at Thompson High School jumped from a total of 396 students during the 2013-2014 school year to 722 this year, marking an 82 percent increase in enrollment.

“We are exposing children to more rigorous instructional offerings, and I think it will pay off in the long run,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said.

During a Feb. 9 meeting, the School Board voted unanimously to fund stipends tied to Advanced Placement social sciences, art and foreign language classes at Thompson High School. Stipends have been offered to students in other AP classes at THS for the past several months.

AP classes are available to students who qualify for them, and are more rigorous than other classroom offerings at the school. At the end of the class, students can take an AP exam to earn college credits before even graduating from high school.

Through an A+ College Ready grant, the School System received in the spring of 2014, ACS began offering $100 bonuses to students who earned passing scores on AP exams and $100 stipends to teachers for each student who earned a passing AP score. ACS has also invested about $215,000 in the school’s AP programs over a three-year period.

Davis also said the THS graduation rate has risen to 97 percent, up from 89 percent at the end of the 2013 school year. She attributed the rise to intervention programs aimed at helping students who otherwise would have dropped out.

“For us to increase the graduation rate that far, that quickly, is remarkable,” School Board President Adam Moseley said.