Brown Elementary School gets off ‘failing schools’ list, principal shares how

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 7:09 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There are fewer Birmingham City Schools on the state Department of Education’s list of failing schools this year.

Birmingham City School leaders said they are laser-focused on academic achievement, and Charles A. Brown Elementary School was one of seven schools that worked diligently to get off that list.

Brown Elementary’s principal, Dr. Janice Drake, said she and her team are breathing a sigh of relief, saying being on the failing schools list was obviously not something they were proud of.

Dr. Drake’s has only been at Brown for the last three years, and a big chunk of that time was during the pandemic when students were learning from home.

She said student academic success really suffered during that time, so it was imperative to hit the ground running when students returned to the classrooms.

Dr. Drake said she and her team of teachers worked tirelessly pouring over individual student data and academic standards.

She said they all had to make shifts in their instruction to get students engaged in learning and invested in their own success.

Dr. Drake said individualized small-group instruction played a major role in student growth and proficiency.

“Students no longer learn the way we were taught. Therefore, we had to shift our instructional focus. Focusing on the standard and using the data to guide our change for their need,” Dr. Drake explained.

“We were the lowest in the state last year and one year later, just one year later as percentage points of students reading on grade level, the increased points, Birmingham City Schools were in the top 10, and when we talk about achievement and the movement of kids being proficient, the increased percentage of kids being proficient, Birmingham was number three in the state,” said Chief Academic and Accountability Officer for BCS, Dr. Jermaine Dawson.

Dr. Dawson said the students’ academic success is being recognized across the country.

In fact, he said school districts from other states are already reaching out to BCS for advice on best practices.

He and Dr. Drake said the district still has a long way to go, but they’re confident that with this momentum, Birmingham City Schools can someday rank among the top school districts in the state.

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