Andalusia City Schools Superintendent provides report to Andalusia city council

Published 11:00 am Monday, December 12, 2022

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Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Dr. Daniel Shakespeare provided a positive report to the members of the city council during a meeting on Tuesday.

Shakespeare, who is in his second year as the school system’s superintendent, told the council that his vision is to elevate Andalusia City Schools to one of the top performing systems in the state and that progress has already been made.

Last year, Andalusia City Schools was given an overall grade of 88, or a “B.” This year, the system improved to an overall grade of 91 to receive an “A.”

“When we received the B last year, we were ranked about 33rd in the state,” Shakespeare said. “We are now in a five-way tie for 14th in the state.”

The superintendent also showed the top school systems designated as having high-poverty and that Andalusia Elementary School is earning high grades despite its 52 percent poverty level.

“The reason this is so important is that the State Department of Education recognized Andalusia Elementary as one of those schools with poverty over 50 percent, but also scored in student achievement of over 50 percent. It’s a lot different from Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills where a poverty rate is .3 and we’re dealing with 52 percent,” he said.

In math, Shakespeare said Andalusia City Schools is recognized nationally for its gains, ranking second for its improvement in that subject.

“Among 3,700 school districts that tested in 29 states and Washington D.C., Andalusia City Schools’ students grew almost a full grade level in math from 2019 to 2022,” he said.

Shakespeare said the test results can be directly linked to the COVID pandemic.

“COVID hit us in March 2020 and learning loss is real. I’ll add that the we’re still dealing with COVID issues today: increased absenteeism, shortage in teachers, apathy among students, all kinds of things. But, we still made progress and ranked second nationally for our learning gains in math,” he said.

The superintendent showed the council the results form 2020-21 testing, citing overall grade improvements at two schools.

“I am extremely happy with our results, but we still have a lot of work to do in regard to student achievement, preparing our teachers, and chronic absenteeism.

At the Andalusia Junior High School, Shakespeare showed student testing went down from a year ago, from 87 in 2020-21 to 79 in 2021-22.

“We scored a 35.74 in academic achievement (at the junior high) and we have a lot of work to do in that regard at the junior high,” Shakespeare said.

The junior high will kick off a new mentorship program during the next semester that could help students with achievement and in other areas.

“We are looking at kicking of a mentorship program at the junior high in January and we think that will help us with our student achievement scores. Junior high-aged kids can be the most difficult to educate … they want to be independent, but they are not independent. Hopefully, our mentorship program will help with behavior, school culture, as well as academic achievement,” Shakespeare said.

The high school’s report card improved from the previous score of 79 to 82. Student achievement at the high school scored at 29.08.

Andalusia Elementary saw the biggest gain, from an 85 to an “A” score of 90, which is a milestone for the school.

“This is the first ‘A’ for the elementary school. Their academic achievement score was 57.65,” he said.

On the systemwide report card, ACSS improved from an 88 to a 91 for the system’s first-ever “A” grade. He said the graduation rate score of 97.32 for the system is in the top 2 percent of the nation.

During its meeting, the council approved the following items:

  • approved receiving a reimbursement of $134,000 related to the capital improvement cooperative district and expenses for The B pub.
  • approved declaring property at 122 6th Ave. surplus and selling to the Childs Advocacy Center as its new office. The property will be sold at its appraised value of $126,000.
  • approved the re-appointment of Lena Boswell to the Andalusia Housing Authority Board.
  • approved the purchase of four Ford pick-up trucks for the Andalusia Police Department’s investigations unit. The total cost, including equipping the vehicles is $162,712.
  • approved changing the date and time of the council’s first meeting in January to Friday, Jan. 13, at noon.