By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart
For the Birmingham Times
The success and progress at Nathaniel A. Barrett Elementary School and A.H. Parker High School are just part of the story for Birmingham City Schools (BCS) in the most recent Alabama Department of Education school report card on academics.
Earlier this month (November 7), BCS Superintendent Lisa Herring updated the Birmingham City Council about the school system’s academics during a council committee meeting. She explained that BCS received an overall C on the state report card, with a grade of 71.
“Clearly, we are not celebrating the 71 because it is a 71. We celebrate it because it is an indication of progress,” Herring said.
The grade of 71 marks an improvement because the school system scored 66 in the 2016–2017 school year, followed by a 68 in 2017–2018.
“We maintain that our ‘C’ does not stand for ‘Content.’ It represents a commitment to excellence. We will not be satisfied until every scholar in our district is highly successful,” said Herring, who meets every month with the school system’s 42 principals.
“We speak candidly about the work and candidly about the challenges,” she said. “Being a principal is one of the hardest jobs. It’s also one of the most rewarding jobs.”
In addition to serving as chief learning officers at their respective campuses, school principals work closely with teachers to enhance the craft of teaching and learning in order to create a positive educational experience for all students, Herring said.
The superintendent credits the recent gains to the school system’s strategic plan and the work of the educators who are committed to success for each student. BCS developed plans that focus on instructional leadership, Herring said, and leaders at each school regularly measure and assess student performance.
With a solid plan in place, academic achievement throughout the school system will continue to improve, but it will not be easy.
The system still faces challenges: Only 15 of the school system’s 42 schools received a grade of C or better on the report card, and the remaining 50 percent of city schools received Ds.
“We’ve changed a significant amount of practices in every school, whether it was an A school already or a 47 trying to move up,” Herring said. “We are not a failing district, nor are we underperforming. I want to be clear—we are turning around.