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It’s official: ECMS, 3 other locals among state’s 25 most improved

ECMS was one of two local schools to show 14-point improvement on its latest state report card. In foreground, Nicole Spottswood, left, and ECMS Principal Forrest Jones, right, held the banner. In the background are BOE members Danny Benjamin, Mike Edwards, Cindy Jackson, Loumeek White, Sherry Digmon, Coleman Wallace; Deputy Director of Operations Shaun Goolsby; and Dr. Michele Collier.

News Staff Writer

One of Dr. Michele Collier’s first duties after she was formally hired as permanent superintendent of Escambia County Schools was to honor four of the facilities within her realm of supervision and oversight.
Dr. Collier and Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Nicole Spottswood presented congratulatory banners and $8,000 checks to the principals of Escambia County Middle (ECMS), W.S. Neal High, W.S. Neal Elementary and Pollard McCall Junior High — during the February 22 county school board meeting.
ECMS Principal Forrest Jones was the first of the four called to the front of Flomaton High School’s media center to receive his school’s reward for a job well done. ECMS improved by 14 points and saw its letter grade improve from ‘F’ to ‘C.’
“This is in recognition of your being awarded as one of the top 25 most improved schools,” the superintendent said. “You’re getting a banner rolled out for you, and an $8,000 check for your school, for the benefit of your students.”
The banners and money were awarded by the Alabama State Department of Education in recognition of each school’s inclusion in the state’s 25 most improved schools, based on a comparison of this year’s and last year’s state report cards.
Jones recently cited the teamwork displayed by the ECMS faculty and staff as the main reason for the improvement.
This was the first year that the state’s schools showing the most improvement were awarded. In previous years, the top 25 schools received $5,000 each, and there was no monetary recognition for the most improved. This year, the 25 schools that made the biggest gains over the previous year received $8,000 each, and the state’s top-25 schools received $2,000 each.
Only eight schools, including Monroe County’s J.F. Shields (up 15 points), showed more improvement than ECMS, while W.S. Neal High went from 67 to 81 and tied ECMS for the best comparative showing among county schools. Westview Elementary in Phenix City and Repton Junior High in Conecuh County, also improved by 14 points.
In an interview with Al.com, Alabama Superintendent Eric Mackey said the addition of the schools that showed the biggest jump over the previous year’s “grade” was “to highlight the hard work schools are doing to improve learning,” a factor he said is key to strengthening the state’s overall educational performance.
“Some of them are most improved from pretty low,” Mackey pointed out, “and some were middle, but they’ve moved way on up.”
W.S. Neal Elementary enjoyed a 13-point jump, from 70 to 83, and Pollard McCall’s 84 was 11 points higher than its score from the previous year.