Three of Dothan City School’s magnet schools were singled out as some of the top-scorers in the state.

Carver Magnet School earned a high 99 score on the state report card — falling in the top 2% of all schools. Heard Magnet earned a 96, and Montana Street Magnet earned a 95.

All the schools have been retired from serving in their former capacities since the school board made the controversial decision nearly a year ago to shutter one of the city’s four magnet schools and strip the “magnet” structure away from two others. Now titled Carver School of Math, Science and Technology, the city’s lone magnet school teaches students in grades 3-6.

One of the concerns from magnet school parents during restructuring discussion was the dissolution of most of the magnet schools, including Beverlye Magnet School, which scored a high 88 “B.” Many feared that taking away high-achieving learning environments from their children would result in lower student success.

Proponents of their disbanding argued that all students should have access to high-level learning and that magnet schools created disproportionate demographics among the remaining schools.

In wake of report card scores, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards continues to stand by her decision to close the magnet schools and consolidate schools so that every child in the system has the same access to quality education.

“Acting as a system and using the principles of continuous school improvement, the bar can be raised for every student and every school within the system,” she said. “We have started by reviewing all student achievement data and placing emphasis on teacher training, lesson plans, attention to standards, attendance and participation in career technology as well as STEM, the arts and learning-by-doing.”

Although Dothan City Schools as a system raised its score from a 79 to an 81 “B” from the year before, it had two schools among the lowest scoring in the state: Faine and Honeysuckle, both scoring a 58.

Additionally, two other schools, Girard, 61, and Cloverdale Elementary, 63, fell among the bottom 5% of schools in Alabama.

“Expectations matter for all students and the school climate,” Edwards said. “Labeling schools as failing does nothing to improve achievement.”

Because district lines and configuration has changed for all the remaining open schools in the Dothan City School’s district, last year’s numbers are unlikely to predict achievement in the future.

“In the real world and in authentic situations, people of diverse backgrounds work collaboratively and in cooperative group,” Edwards said. “Most educators believe that children of all abilities learn best and see real growth when they are exposed to students as models and mentors. We must create classrooms that are active and project-based. Classrooms of students who are actively engaged in their own learning are effective for students at all levels.”

Edwards commended DCS administrators, principals, and teachers on improving the district’s overall grade.

“Just as many schools made gains this year, as did the system, focusing on standards and good teaching as well as remediation and acceleration, as needed, will produce positive results,” she said. “If teachers, parents and the community express positive expression and true interest and belief in Dothan City Schools, there is no doubt that students can succeed.”

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