Lee County School Board Hears Report Card Update

Members of the Lee County Board of Education listen to a breakdown of the system's latest report card at the Dec. 13 board meeting. PHOTO BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH / THE OBSERVER




While Lee County schools are showing improvement in some areas, the latest report card for the school system shows that its overall score went down by one point since the last one, given in 2019.

The Lee County school system received an overall “B” grade of 81, the same as 56% of the school systems in Alabama, according to a report from the Curriculum & Instruction Team at the Dec. 13 board meeting.

“COVID took a lot out of us, but that’s not an excuse,” said Superintendent Dr. Mac McCoy. “We are here to educate; we’re here to get better. … [We’re] absolutely not satisfied with where we’re at. We can improve in almost every area, and we have a plan to do so.”

The secondary school that scored the highest overall was Smiths Station Junior High School, also with a grade of 81; the highest-scoring elementary school was South Smiths Station Elementary School with a grade of 89.

For secondary schools without a 12th grade, the scores are based on academic growth, academic achievement, chronic absenteeism and progress in English language proficiency. For schools with a 12th grade, the score is also based on graduation rate, as well as college and career readiness.

According to Dr. Jason Wright, assistant superintendent of secondary curriculum, the schools have placed a greater emphasis on teacher planning time and ACT preparation. Wright also commended the secondary schools for their college and career readiness tracking, which he said has improved.

“That’s something that’s really important to us,” he said.

Elementary schools have also been taking steps to increase student achievement and growth, said Dr. Brad Hunter, assistant superintendent of elementary curriculum. Almost every school scored an “A” in academic growth this year, but academic achievement scores were low; only three schools achieved a “C” grade, and the rest of the school scored lower. 

“Our focus is to get that instruction and those assessments to match,” Hunter said. 

Efforts to achieve that include professional development for teachers and tracking the individual progress of each elementary student throughout the year, he added.

District 3 Member Richard Brown Sr. emphasized the importance of tracking student progress after elementary school as well.

According to Dr. Anna Shepherd-Jones, coordinator of federal programs, accountability and school improvement, five subgroups in four Lee County schools have been identified for needing targeted support and improvement — students with disabilities at Beulah High School, Loachapoka High School, Smiths Station High School and Loachapoka Elementary School, as well as Black students at Beulah High School.

The high schools can be removed from the targeted list if they improve and no longer meet the eligibility criteria after one year, she said.

District 6 Member Larry Patterson applauded Loachapoka Elementary for making significant improvements already. Shepherd-Jones said If the school shows improvement over a two-year period and no longer meets the criteria after three years, it will be removed from the list as well.

“It’s almost like that philosophy of ‘You’re going to play like you practice,’ and if you practice at a high level, you should play at a high level,” Hunter said. “That’s the goal.”

Both Hunter and McCoy acknowledged the hard work and long hours of Lee County Schools staff.

“Teachers and administrators have never worked harder than they are working right now,” McCoy said. “I can assure you that the days are grueling. We ask a lot from them, and they are rising to the occasion on a daily basis.”

To view a breakdown of Lee County schools’ latest report cards, visit reportcard.alsde.edu and select the year, system and school. To view the school system’s grades as a whole, select “Lee County” in the School category.

In old business, the board approved two items mentioned at the last meeting: the 2023-2024 school calendar and the revised Lee County Schools Special Education Plan for Children with Disabilities.

The only new item of business was a request for an out-of-state field trip for South Smiths Station Elementary School, which the board approved.

The board also approved various Human Resources recommendations.

In the community speakers portion of the meeting, Ronnie Kilpatrick of Smiths Station expressed concern about the programs and clubs offered in the schools and how parents can be better informed of this information.

The next school board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 10, 2023, at the central office, located at 2410 Society Hill Road in Opelika.


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