BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A new beginning for Birmingham City Schools. A five-year strategic plan seems to be paying off, according to school leaders. We wanted to find out what’s working inside the classroom.
"As a school system, we maintain that we owned whatever performance data is release for Birmingham city schools,” Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent of Birmingham City Schools, said last year.
Last year, Herring vowed to put together an action plan to fix the problems when it comes to the district’s 22 failing schools. A year later, the list of failing schools is now down to only five. That’s a 75 percent decrease, according to the state’s newly released report cards.
BCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jermall Wright says significant progress has been made throughout the district. In some cases, there’s been double-digit growth for student achievement. Wright says the district basically realigned itself to move the needle in a positive direction.
"We made teaching and learning our core business in our district. We aligned our resources. We aligned our supports. We reorganized our central office in how it was designed so that we can provide increased levels of support to schools,” Wright said.
One of those schools seeing big improvement is Oxmoor Valley Elementary. The school moved from a "F" to a "C".
"Many of our students were not reading at proficiency. So at that point, we were identified by the state as being failing school,” Melvin Love, Principal at Oxmoor Valley Elementary said.
We’re told the school made curriculum changes which focused on each student. "We individualized our students data. We had our students to own their data and in owning their data we talked about the measurable goals that they needed to meet proficiency. Teachers individualized. They came on the weekends. They developed testing banks, strategies to use within the classroom,” Love said.
Principal Love says the results are phenomenal.
"With students we find that it’s a mindset. If you tell students they cannot do it then of course they are not going to do, but if you make them believe they can achieve in anything they set their minds to then they will be more in tuned to do what needs to be done to move the academic success,” Love continued.
Love says there’s always room for improvement. He’s hoping to see bigger gains this year.
Even though the district has an overall ”D” letter grade, Wright feels what’s being done inside the classroom right now speaks volumes.
“I believe if we continue to stay the course we’re currently on, in a year or two we won’t have any schools rated as an 'F’ in Birmingham city. It’s just a matter of time,” Wright said.
BCS also increased the number of A, B and C schools by 100 percent.
Wright says the district is also working to improve the culture inside schools to help keep and attract quality teachers and principals. It is also working to expand a teacher leadership program that gives teachers the ability to make decisions in their schools.
You can read more on the district’s success at this link.