New superintendent: Hartselle lives up to its educational billing
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The opening of a new school year in Hartselle Aug. 11 brought good news from the State Department of Education. Four of the five schools met all Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Child Left Behind requirements. Plus, student test scores ranked well above the state average in most cases.
No one could be happier than first year superintendent Dr. Mike Reed.
"I'm very proud of the test scores," he said. "Our school system has done well and it's a credit to the quality of teachers we have.
"But we don't need to be satisfied. We'll take what we have and build on it," he added.
The only shortcoming on the AYP report card was the failure of the special education sub-group at Hartselle Junior High to meet state standards. Thus, the school was placed on the School Improvement – Year 1 list.
Hartselle's seventh graders exceeded the state average by 13, 18 and 23 percent in reading, writing and math, respectively. They also outscored their counterparts in Decatur by 18, 11 and 28 percent in the same subjects.
Writing scores recorded by Hartselle's fifth, seventh and 10 graders were 10, 18 and 12 percent higher than the state average.
Hartselle's report card showed less than state average scores in two grades and two categories. Fourth graders scored 81 in reading, compared to a state average of 83. Third graders were one percentage point under the state average in math, 73 to 74 percent.
Dr. Reed said he will look closely at the deficiencies during the evaluation process. "We'll track the students and determine what can be done to help them," he pointed out.
The reading scores of Hartselle students should rise even higher in the future thanks to the Alabama Reading Initiative. The program is being implemented this school year after proving to be effective at other schools around the state. To prepare for it, all first through third grade teachers participated in an ARI training workshop at Athens College earlier this summer.
Dr. Reed is familiar with the program. He implemented it when he was superintendent of the Butler County school system.
"Everybody is going to be teaching reading the same way and there will be an increased emphasis and time spend on reading in all of the schools," Dr. Reed stated. "My experience with the ARI has been that reading scores go up when everybody is working from the same page."
Results of the high school exit exam, which includes reading, language, science, math and social studies, were also announced. All 178 Hartselle High seniors who took the test passed all parts except math. The number passing the math part totaled 98 percent, compared to a 95 percent state average.
"We're accustomed to our students scoring high on the exit exam, including those with special needs" Principal Jerry Reeves said. "That's a credit to our teachers and remediation program."