The release of the Alabama Department of Education’s Adequate Yearly Progress numbers was a mixture of good and bad for the Leeds City School system.
Leeds’ school district met all of its goals for AYP, which is part of the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act and measures a series of criteria in different categories. Two schools, however — Leeds Elementary and Leeds High School — did not make AYP for the 2011-2012 school year.
Superintendent John Moore said both schools met virtually all of the goals set forth by the mandate, but fell short in a few.
“You take Leeds Elementary with 17 goals, and they make 15 of 17, that’s 88 percent of their goals,” Moore said. “But it doesn’t play to the public like, ‘They made 88 percent of their goals.’ It just plays, ‘They didn’t make it.’ And that’s not really representative of a lot of the good work that’s done.”
Most notably, Leeds High School fell short because of its graduation rates. Moore said the school had a dropout rate of around 13 percent, which he called “too high.”
“It is a vexing American problem,” he said. “If you have 10 kids who drop out, you’ll find out they dropped out for 10 different reasons. It is a problem, but we have hired an experienced counselor, and we are very hopeful that she’s going to form those relationships and look at our areas of weakness.
“We’re going to look at our coding; we’re going to do a better job of tracking kids. We’re not happy when anybody exits without a diploma.”
Leeds Elementary did not meet the requirements in two sub-groups for math, according to Moore. Overall, the district and its individual schools met 55 of 59 required criteria.
“The purpose of evaluation is to guide improvement, and we’re going to be focusing on those four goals this year,” Moore said. “Overall, I am proud to say our district made AYP, and the schools made 55 of the 59 goals.”
Moore also praised Leeds Middle School and its principal, Jason Baker. LMS met all 25 of its goals.
“Everywhere Dr. Baker has been, he has met his goals,” Moore said. “We’re very proud of Dr. Baker and his staff, and the teachers at Leeds Middle School.”
Moore has been superintendent in Leeds since 2009. Though the system has met most of its AYP goals during that time, Moore said he is glad to see the state shifting to a new model next year.
“The state board hasn’t approved the model yet,” Moore said. “It’s a multi-faceted approach, more of a growth model, how far have you moved kids?
“I am very hopeful that the new accountability system that’s coming in will give a fairer picture of the effectiveness of the school.”