Elmore County schools earns low B on statewide report card

Elmore Public Schools received an overall score of 82 from the Alabama Department of Education for the 2017-2018 academic year. (File)

According to the results of the annual statewide report card released by the Alabama Department of Education, most public schools in Elmore County have improved over the past couple of years.

Elmore County Public Schools Superintendent Richard Dennis said he is proud of what faculty, staff and the more than 11,000 students in the system have accomplished.

“I’m excited to see us trending upward,” Dennis said. “It’s very promising.”

Overall, the Elmore County Public Schools System received a score of 82 for the 2017-18 academic year, which is slightly above the state’s average score of 80. The scores were determined by each school’s academic achievement and academic growth.

For students in elementary and middle schools, academic achievement was defined by standardized test scores for reading and math, Alabama Alternate Assessments administered to students with cognitive disabilities and student participation. Academic growth was determined by Scantron test scores.

For high school students, academic achievement was defined by ACT scores from juniors, assessment grades from sophomores and student participation rates. Academic growth was determined by ACT ASPIRE grades from sophomores and ACT scores from juniors.

The majority of schools in Elmore County improved between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years. Holtville High School, Millbrook Middle School, Airport Road Intermediate School and Wetumpka Elementary School each improved their score from a C to a B.

Redland Elementary School’s score, which decreased by two points, remained the highest in the county at 88.

“They’re still at the top and in a very good position,” Dennis said. “On the academic side, Redland has the leading grades.”

Dennis credited the across-the-board improvements to an increased emphasis on classroom instruction.

“The instructional aspect has been and will be the most significant way in which we’ve improved,” Dennis said.

Dennis also said Elmore County has come up with ways to track how well students perform in certain subjects.

“In high schools, we’ve come up with benchmarks,” Dennis said. “A lot of people are upset about it but it’s a great way to monitor academic growth.”

In elementary schools, Dennis said the implementation of the Wholesale Reading Program has been successful. Dennis said several software programs have also helped improve the performance of students who have struggled in certain areas.

While he is proud of what was accomplished during the year, Dennis said he recognizes the system still has room for improvement.

“I want us to celebrate but I don’t want us to get too confident,” Dennis said.

Dennis commended the teachers and students who made the improvements happen.

“What I’ve expressed to my principals is for them to share the accolades with the teachers who are making it happen and the students who are working hard,” Dennis said.

The Elmore County Public Schools System has a budget of $107 million.