County schools focus on graduation exam

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Six months after learning none of Dallas County&8217;s three high schools made the grade on the state report card, school officials, parents and teachers are optimistic about students passing the Alabama High School Graduation Exam.

The problems with Dallas County schools have been the dropout rate, and the low percentage of students passing the graduation exam.

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The Dallas County school district took steps to correct this by hiring dedicated instructors for each of the three high schools to combat the problems face to face &8212; literally.

Steve Baratti came on board earlier this year through a grant as a graduation coach at Dallas County High in Plantersville. He said why students drop out or fail the graduation exam takes individual assessments.


keeps up with his sons’ academics and attendance at Dallas County, but he&8217;s the first to admit not enough reading takes place around his house.

&8220;I think both of them have three more tests to take and they&8217;ll be through with it (graduation exam),&8221; Herrod said. &8220;They&8217;ll both be seniors next year.&8221;

Herrod got involved because he was a single parent responsible for his boys. &8220;I&8217;d say more involvement would help a lot,&8221; he said. &8220;For the last five years it&8217;s been just me and them, and I&8217;ve been involved. It helps.&8221;

Kimerly Savage is the dedicated instructor at Southside High School, and Yolanda Randolph is stationed at Keith High in Orrville. They were hired in January to help focus on keeping students in school, and assisting in passing the graduation exam.

According to the state-issued student academic performance report card for 2006-07,

Dallas County, 68.6 percent of students tested passed the reading portion of the graduation exam. In math, 66.1 percent passed.

Statewide, 82 percent of schools made Adequate Yearly Progress in 2007-2008, which was implemented through the federal No Child Left Behind law. Three years ago, state school officials reported only 23 percent of all schools made AYP, denoting greater attention is being paid to the measurable criteria.

The AYP status of schools and school systems is based on achievement on assessments of the state’s academic content standards, participation rates on these assessments, and meeting additional indicators based on attendance rates for elementary and middle schools and graduation rates for high schools.

Students must pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam to earn a high school diploma. The exam takes five days, and is given twice a year during school. It&8217;s not timed, and students can take the exam as many times as they need to pass all five parts.