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Three Demopolis schools, all Linden schools meet AYP

The state of Alabama released its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports on Monday, and for the most part, there is good news for schools in Marengo County.

Three Demopolis City schools — Westside Elementary, U.S. Jones Elementary and Demopolis Middle School — met all 17 of their AYP goals in the 2008-09 school year. All three Linden City Schools, including Linden Elementary, George P. Austin Junior High and Linden High School also attained 100 percent of their goals last year, as did Marengo High School, a K-12 school located in Dixon’s Mill.

The other three Marengo County schools — A.L. Johnson, John Essex and Sweet Water — made 16 of the 17 goals, with all three coming up short in graduation rate. Demopolis High School made 15 of the 17 goals, getting “red cells” in graduation rate and free or reduced lunch students’ reading proficiency. However, considered as a whole, the Demopolis City Schools system passed its AYP.

According to Gina Johnston, the director of secondary curriculum and federal programs with Demopolis City Schools, the graduation rate is always from the previous school year, to allow for summer graduates, so the graduation rate for the 2007-08 school year was used for this year’s AYP goals.

Demopolis High School had a graduation rate of 84 percent in 2008 after having a graduation rate of 91 percent in 2007. The goal statewide is 90 percent.

“We’ve got a lot of good programs like remediation and tutoring,” Johnston said. “We’re going to continue a lot of the ongoing things, but we’ll also try to improve on and add to what we’re doing. We’ve got a lot of very talented teachers who give and give. It’s the children we’re focusing on. We’ve just got to stay focused and find out what we need to do to make our children successful.

“Demopolis has a lot going for it in that we have a lot of very committed people. That’s what it takes — parental support and community support — to make our children successful.”

Marengo County Schools superintendent Luke Hallmark said maintaining a strong graduation rate was difficult for the smaller schools. For instance, John Essex High School’s Class of 2009 had 19 seniors in its graduating class.

“Our schools are so small, it does contribute to a graduation rate issue,” he said. “When you have small graduation classes, one student can affect your whole graduation rate, enough to even place it in school improvement.

“I read somewhere that 186 schools did not meet AYP. That’s not very many. Of those, 119 missed by only one cell, and we are three of those.”

Linden City Schools superintendent Scott Collier was pleased with all three of his schools meeting all 17 AYP goals.

“We are very happy about that,” he said. “It shows the hard work that our faculty and students do. Some of our scores were significantly higher than what the state requirements were. We are really pleased with that.”