County system spotlighted by state officials
by Daniel Gaddy
Nov 30, 2012 | 1850 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officials with the Alabama State Department of Education recently spotlighted the Walker County School System for efforts to prepare students for higher education.

Throughout the year and for several years to follow, schools across Alabama have been preparing for new standards and policies associated with the department’s College and Career Readiness Standards.

The standards, also called the Alabama Common Core Standards, have been adopted by more than 40 states and were developed by a state-led initiative spearheaded by governors and school chiefs. The program aims to prepare students for college or careers through clear and consistent benchmarks at each grade level.

State department officials asked administrators with the Walker County Schools to showcase their training efforts at a quarterly district meeting. The Walker County School System’s district includes 15 other school systems that usually meet at the University of North Alabama.

“I thought it was quite an honor that we were selected to do that,” said Joel Hagood, director of curriculum for the Walker County Schools.

Hagood said state department officials were particularly interested in the Walker County School district’s training on teaching reading skills throughout all subjects.

He said administrators brought in a University of Alabama professor, Edwin Ellis, to assist in the training. Ellis is associated with the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.

Hagood said the local school district was also spotlighted for using a comparison sheet that details each benchmark called for in the new standards and how that benchmark correlates with standardized tests like the ACT and the Alabama Graduation Exam.

Hagood said Alabama’s Common Core Standards are part of a broader effort to move away from using standardized tests as the sole metric to gauge students’ learning.

That shift, he said, will lead to high school graduates that are more prepared for post-secondary life.

“For the first time in my career, I am starting to see everything work,” said Hagood, who has been working in education for 17 years.