Carter discusses progress during his tenure

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2007


When James Carter was appointed Selma City Schools superintendent in 1990, he inherited a system plagued with high dropout rates, low test scores and a brittle relationship with its respective community.

Carter vowed that when his tenure ended, he would leave the system in an improved condition.

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And now that that time has come, he can say with an honest heart the system is “a lot better off now than it was when I came in.”

“It’s a lot better I think,” said Carter, who submitted his resignation to the Board of Education following a closed executive session Wednesday night. “Test scores are up, dropout rate’s down, we’ve got very safe schools …

“I’m very pleased by the progress I made in this system. My work speaks for itself.”

Lower dropout rates

When Carter assumed the role of superintendent, dropout rates lingered around 40 percent and low test scores earned Selma schools the reputation of being among the lowest performing in Alabama.

According to an article published in the Foundation For Excellent Schools (FES) newsletter, from 2000 to 2006, the dropout rate went from 32 percent to just below six percent – much lower than the statewide average of 13 percent.

Selma schools are now credited for its significant dropout rate decline over the past decade.

Higher Education

During the 2005-2006 academic year, 197 students graduated from Selma High School, most of whom went on to pursue higher education.

Of the 94.27 percent of students who tested for the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE), 87.85 percent passed the test, cited an accountability report provided by the Alabama State Department of Education.

In an effort to increase Selma students’ chances of a higher education, Carter proposed an initiative to open Selma College Early High School (SECHS), which the school board approved.

Students who graduate from SECHS earn a high school diploma and a two-year college degree.

SECHS, opened since 2005, is a partnership with

SECME, Wallace Community College Selma, Tuskegee University and Alabama State University.

Yearly Progress

Selma schools also fared well in its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) assessments.

In 2006, 10 of 12 Selma schools made 100 percent AYP, which is based on achievement on assessments of the state’s academic content standards. The system earned $56,000 for its AYP status.

With 4,000 students and 550 employees, Carter doesn’t want the system to backslide. He wants the system to flourish and preserve its high educational standards.

“The system’s made tremendous progress over the last 17 years,” Carter said. “Hopefully (the board) won’t let the system retrogress.”

Carter, whose last day on the job was Friday, will submit an “up-to-date report” regarding the accomplishments and current status of the school system.

He says the public ought to know where the system stands academically and financially.