DHS named Blue Ribbon school

Published 11:34 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Today may be the first day of school at Demopolis High School but the faculty and administrators got the biggest report card of their career yesterday. And it was all As.

Administrators at the school were notified yesterday that Demopolis High School was named a No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon school.

“You win a state championship in football and that’s a big deal,” Demopolis High Principal Dr. Isaac Espy said. “(The Blue Ribbon distinction) is a national championship in terms of academics.”

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The Blue Ribbon program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education, requires schools to meet either of two assessment criteria. It recognizes schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that dramatically improve student performance in accordance with state assessment systems; and it rewards schools that score in the top 10 percent on state assessments.

Each nominee must also achieve Adequate Yearly Progress status for three consecutive years.

Demopolis, one of only three public high schools to ever win Blue Ribbon certification, was nominated due to significant progress in math and reading scores among its black and impoverished students.

“It’s not all just about the gains,” Espy said. “It’s about the gains and sustaining those gains. One big year, one spike, isn’t going to do it.”

From the 2004-2005 to 2005-2006 school year, the high school posted a 22 percent gain in black students who exceeded state standards in reading. Poverty students gained 20 percent. Each sub-group saw a slight decrease in the 2006 to 2007 school year but were still well above the 2004-2005 numbers.

Black students posted a gain of 29 percent in math for the 2005-2006 school year and an additional 2 percent in 2006-2007. Poverty students also gained 29 percent in 2005-2006 and an additional 4 percent in 2006-2007.

“This is a lifetime achievement for Demopolis High School,” Espy said. “Professionally, it’s a lifetime achievement for me and our teachers here, too.”

Espy and Danny Wasson, Social Studies Department Head, will travel to Washington D.C. in October to accept the recognition.

“This is a crowning achievement for the entire school system,” city superintendent of education, Dr. L. Wayne Vickers, said.