Bankhead Middle scores county’s only B on state report card

By JENNIFER COHRON, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/9/18

CORDOVA — Bankhead Middle School received Walker County Schools’ lone B on the state report card of public schools released last week.

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Bankhead Middle scores county’s only B on state report card

Posted

CORDOVA — Bankhead Middle School received Walker County Schools’ lone B on the state report card of public schools released last week.

The school’s 83 was the second highest score in the system behind neighboring Cordova Elementary.

Three of the school’s four grade levels improved their scores on the ACT Aspire in reading and math from 2016 to 2017.

Three years ago, Principal Amber Freeman readjusted the school’s daily schedule to allow more time for instruction in reading and math.

BMS students now have two periods of reading and math, for a total of 100 minutes a day in each subject.

Freeman said BMS students have also benefited from their teachers attending Laying the Foundation training for the past three years.

Laying the Foundation is the middle school component of the A+ College Ready program that Cordova High School joined in 2012.

CHS was the first school in the county to begin offering the more rigorous curriculum that allows students the chance to earn college credits for each course in which they earn a qualifying score on an Advanced Placement exam at the end of the term.

“My teachers have gone through two years of rigorous training in each of their subject areas to help prepare students for increased rigor, critical thinking and those skills that employers are looking for students coming out of high school to have,” Freeman said.

Freeman has invested in technology and professional development training so that teachers can effectively incorporate it into their lesson plans.

Every BMS student has access to a Chromebook, which not only help students stay engaged but also allow teachers to instantly determine whether students have understood the material.

Beyond academics, Freeman and her teachers have worked to create an environment where every student knows they have value and their achievements are celebrated.

“We have leadership rewards, students of the month, teachers of the month. We focus on celebrating success instead of focusing on the discipline, and that decreases the need for discipline. We give them high expectations and because they know we care about them, they work hard to live up to them,” Freeman said.

The school also offers a club day once a month so that students can pursue a range of interests and socialize.

For Cordova students, BMS is the link between CES, where they are given a foundation, and CHS, where they are prepared for college and career.

The principals of Cordova’s three schools work together to ensure each transition is as smooth as possible.

“Our fifth grade teachers go up and teach a lesson at the fourth grade at the end of the year so that they can get to know their teachers because it’s very intimidating when they come down here. They also bring the fourth graders down for a tour. My eighth graders do the same thing. We go down and tour and see the ninth grade classrooms,” Freeman said.

While annual assessments and state report cards are one way to track the school’s progress, Freeman hesitates to define success by a number.

“My success is when I see kids who have come through here become responsible, successful, self-motivated members of society or what we hear from parents and kids as they move on from year to year. They’ll tell us, ‘Thanks for making this such a great educational experience.’ That means more than any test,” Freeman said.