West Limestone #2 in Limestone County when it comes to graduating students who are ready for college.
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Friday, April 01, 2016
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Tanner is number 1!



Local schools receive high marks for getting students ready for college

By Deangelo McDaniel Staff Writer | Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016 12:15 am

Three Decatur-area high schools are ranked in the top 50 statewide when it comes to graduating students who are ready for college.

Four other area schools are in the top 100. Public schools comprise 919 of the 1,106 high schools in Alabama. The rankings do not include private schools such as Decatur Heritage Christian Academy and Athens Bible School.

Pennsylvania-based NICHE, which since 2002 has looked at how schools are performing nationwide, released the rankings last month.

Some of the factors the organization used to create the rankings for high schools that best prepare students for college success included graduation rates, AP class enrollment and AP exam pass rates, and SAT and ACT composite scores, company spokeswoman Jessica Hair said.

Hartselle, at No. 15, was first on the list among high schools in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties, while Athens was No. 19 and Austin No. 36. In the three-county area, Tanner was the first high school in a county system on the list at No. 53. West Limestone, R.A. Hubbard and Lawrence County High also were in the top 100.

Dee Dee Jones, director of teaching and learning for Hartselle City Schools, said the district’s success is linked to the goal of getting every student college- or career-ready.

“We listen to what the students want, and we guide them in that direction,” she said.

Hartselle’s SAT composite score was 1760, compared to the national average of 1500, and 22 percent of its students were enrolled in AP classes, with a 42.3 percent pass rate.

This past year, the school district had 104 students who scored at least 25 on the ACT exam, which means they are qualified for admission to any four-year college or university in the state.

The average ACT score for Alabama students statewide is 19.1, while the national average is 21. Hartselle’s average score is 23.5. Students are tested in English, math, science and reading. A perfect score is 36.

Athens and Austin also had impressive numbers. Both schools had 1700 SAT composite scores and graduation rates above the state average of 90 percent.

The numbers showed 9.7 percent of the students at Austin were enrolled in at least one AP class and 27.6 percent had passing rates.

“We’re pleased with our ranking, but we’re definitely not happy about where we are,” Austin Principal Don Snow said.

He said the school continues to amend its offerings to meet the needs of students. Last year, for example, Austin added an AP European history class.

Athens had the second-highest graduation rate in the area at 97 percent, while 7.4 percent of its students were enrolled in some kind of AP class and 67.7 percent of those had passing grades on AP exams.



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