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Alabama Torchbearer Schools--Cited by Tony Thacker

Apr 07, 2015

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ALABAMA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATIONGovernor Bob Riley President of the State Board of Education District 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Mr. Randy McKinney, President Pro Tem Mrs. Betty Peters Mrs. Stephanie W. Bell Dr. Ethel H. Hall, Vice President Emerita Mrs. Ella B. Bell Mr. David F. Byers, Jr. Mrs. Sandra Ray, Vice President Dr. Mary Jane Caylor State Superintendent of Education Joseph B. Morton Secretary and Executive Officer

Alabama Department of Education, Joseph B. Morton, State Superintendent of Education

January 2006

No person shall be denied employment, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in any program or activity on the basis of disability, sex, race, religion, national origin, color, or age. Ref: Sec. 1983, Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C.; Title VI and VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964; Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Sec. 504; Age Discrimination in Employment Act; Equal Pay Act of 1963; Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972: Title IX Coordinator, P.O. Box 302101, Montgomery, Alabama 36130-2101 or call (334) 242-8444.

TABLE OF CONTENTSAlabama Leadership Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .ii Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .iv Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v Table 1: 2004-2005 Torchbearer Schools Statistics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .vi Torchbearer Schools: Introduction to Shared Core Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Autonomy Goals Faculty Leadership Assessment and Achievement Culture and Climate Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Consistency of Effort Purity of Purpose Asbury School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Calcedeaver Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9 Dutton Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Foley Intermediate School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 W. C. Griggs Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Highland Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13 Highland Avenue Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Huxford Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Maryvale Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Midland City Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Saint Elmo Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 Western Heights Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 West Jasper Elementary School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Appendix A: Principal Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Appendix B: Survey Quantitative Statistical Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Appendix C: Qualitative Answers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

ALABAMA TORCHBEARER SCHOOLS - Lighting the Way to Student Achievement

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ALABAMA LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

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ALABAMA LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 2004-2005

ALABAMA TORCHBEARER SCHOOLS - Lighting the Way to Student Achievement

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FOREWORDThe schools highlighted by the Torchbearer Schools Program are examples of the kind of positive environments that principals, faculties, and staffs can create when they view the profession in a purely selfless fashion. To be an educator is to be a part of a profession that is equal parts science and art. Many are quite adept at the scientific facets of the job, but the art of teaching can only be mastered by those who truly care for children. The Torchbearer Schools excel because they are staffed with administrators and teachers who not only understand the science, but also embrace the art of teaching. Those same faculty members made it difficult to determine the reason for the success of the schools. In every case, the principals inevitably stated that the faculty and staff were the primary reason for any success that had occurred. Each faculty was equally as adamant that success would have been impossible without the support and guidance of their principal. Furthermore, no one at the schools sees what they are doing as particularly out of the ordinary. In their minds they are simply doing their jobs. However, they do so in a manner that somehow inspires and empowers their students. It was a privilege and a pleasure to visit the Torchbearer Schools and speak with their principals, faculties, and students. Their professional attitudes and consistently upbeat approaches were infectious. It is the aim of this publication to convey at least a small portion of what makes these schools special. For more information about the Torchbearer Schools, please feel free to contact Dr. Tony Thacker of the Alabama Leadership Academy by telephone at 334-353-4810 or by e-mail at [email protected]

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ALABAMA LEADERSHIP ACADEMY 2004-2005

INTRODUCTIONRead 10 good articles describing 10 effective schools and you will have read little about effective programs and a great deal about effective people. These schools work because the people driving them are able. Nothing else, ultimately, is very important. - Theodore R. Sizer, Founder, Coalition of Essential SchoolsIn December 2004 the Alabama Leadership Academy at the State Department of Education conducted a study of the book No Excuses: 21 Lessons from High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools by Samuel Casey-Carter. The book contains both general research concerning raising achievement levels in schools with high-poverty student populations and specific methods used by the 21 schools highlighted. The schools highlighted clearly illustrate that dedicated professionals can make any school successful. However, many of the schools in the book are charter schools, private schools, or magnet schools and none are located in Alabama. The implication to many who attended the book study was that Alabama had no high-poverty, high-performing public schools. The reality was that the work had simply never been done to identify and recognize such schools. The Torchbearer Schools Program was created to recognize high-poverty, high-performing public schools in Alabama. To have been considered for recognition, schools must have met the following three criteria: 1. At least 70% of the student population receiving free/reduced meals. 2. Scored above the 50th percentile in all subjects at all grade levels on the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT10) or the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE). 3. Have at least 66% of their students scoring at Level 3 or Level 4 on the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT). Thirteen schools met all three criteria and were recognized by the State Department of Education as Torchbearer Schools. Those schools and the scores utilized to determine them can be found in Table 1.

ALABAMA TORCHBEARER SCHOOLS - Lighting the Way to Student Achievement

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Table 1 2004-2005 Torchbearer SchoolsSAT 10School Name Calcedeaver Elementary Maryvale Elementary West Jasper Elementary Huxford Elementary Midland City Elementary Asbury School Foley Intermediate Dutton Elementary Highland Elementary Saint Elmo Elementary W.C. Griggs Elementary System Mobile Co. Mobile Co. Jasper City Escambia Co. Dale County Marshall Co. Baldwin Co. Jackson Co. Etowah Co. Mobile Co. Mobile Co. Free/Red 95.5% 94.4% 87.2% 86.6% 76.7% 76.4% 74.6% 72.5% 72.5% 72% 71.8% 70.2% 70.2% Minority 91.4% 99.2% 53.2% 81.2% 44.8% 26.1% 12.2% 44.3% 49.8% 15.7% 0.0% 13.7% 14.2% Reading Math Language 53.3 53 59 57.8 51.8 50.4 55.3 50.3 54 57 58.8 53 58.7 58.7 65 71.3 54.5 64.3 54.7 57.3 50.3 55.3 61.3 50.2 54.3 65.7 59.7 62.7 62.6 61.8 63.5 53.3 61.3 51.3 56 53.7 58.5 50.2 62

ARMT Level 3/4Reading 87.04% 85.23% 97.3% 93.92% 85.53% 81.08% 82.93% 87.5% 85.72% 89.91% 89.91% 83.51% 89.89% Math 68.52% 87.64% 94.6% 78.38% 88.4% 86.12% 86.12% 66.66% 79.52% 67.70% 70.39% 87.5% 85.39%

Highland Avenue Elementary Montgomery Co.

Western Heights Elementary Eufaula City

The 13 principals of the Torchbearer Schools were asked to complete a survey (Appendix A) about their school, and the answers supplied by the principals were entered into the statistical software (SPSS 11.0) to determine means, standard errors, and variances (Appendix B). Principals were also offered an opportunity to supply additional information as needed. A compilation of their qualitative answers can be found in Appendix C. Site visits were made to further discern why Torchbearer Schools were successful when other schools with similar demographics had been less so. The site visits were invaluable. All 13 schools had several traits in common. The most striking commonality was children who were excited about learning. However, each school also had distinctive characteristics that made them unique. All Torchbearer Schools were excellent in their own way and all exemplify what is possible when a group of individuals truly believes that what is is never as good as what could be. The remainder of this text is in two sections. The first section addresses characteristics that all 13 schools have in common. The premise is that characteristics present in all 13 schools identified c