Phenix City Schools Superintendent Randy Wilkes shared wonderful news last Friday at the district’s Educational Summit held at the Professional Development Center (PDC). The district earned an A with a score of 90 on the Alabama Department of Education 2019 Report Card.
“We worked very diligently last year, and the dividends are tremendous,” Wilkes said. “It’s only fitting that we are sitting here today in the Professional Development Center where it all began five years ago.”
The score is an enormous improvement over the C (78) reported last year.
“We have participated in a lot of professional development in the last two years, and it has really paid off for our students,” Wilkes said, explaining how the district was able to improve its grade. In 2014, the year Wilkes took over as Superintendent, the district had a dismal grade of D and since that time he and everyone in the district have worked hard to create a better outcome—9 of 11 schools in the district have improved by a letter grade. The latest grades are listed online at alsde.edu in the Data Center tab under Report Card. The state bases the grades on five different areas: Academic Achievement, Academic Growth, Graduation Rates, College and Career Ready Data, Chronic Absenteeism, and Enrollment by Student Subgroup.
Currently, the graduation rate is at 97 percent with a less than one percent dropout rate. The graduation rate is a year in arrears, so that is actually the number for 2018. To date, there have been $20 million in scholarships awarded, and Central High students have earned more than 3,000 college hours. Also, as widely reported, the district scored earned an AdvancedED accreditation score of 340 out of a possible 400, 60 points above the global average of 280.
When looking at the Return on Investment (ROI), the Phenix City School System ranked as having the 8th highest report card in Alabama, and had a total ranking of 18th out of 138 systems in the state, and yet has one of the highest number of students from low-income families. Those schools ranked from one to seven have an average of free and reduced lunches of 31 percent. Phenix City Schools average 68 percent. The district spends $8,880 per student. The highest amount paid for each student in the state is $13, 445 and the lowest is $8,222.
Wilkes said every school has improved in every major category for a total of five to 16 points.
“Everybody got better than they got last year,” he said. He became emotional when he announced that Westview Elementary had improved by a total of 16 points.
“This is the new norm that is expected of us every time we perform,” Wilkes said. “Our community deserves it, and our students deserve it.”