Photo by Jon Anderson
Kathy Murphy 11-17-16
Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy delivers a speech on the state of the school system to the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama, on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016.
The Hoover school district is surpassing state and national averages for proficiency in English, math, science, reading and writing but still needs improvement, Hoover schools Superintendent Kathy Murphy told the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce today.
Murphy gave her speech on the state of the school system to about 160 people at the chamber’s November luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel.
Most of her talk centered on the academic well-being of the school district. Data indicates that Hoover students rank in the top 10 percent in the state in all areas except third-grade math, and Hoover ranked 18th out of 136 school districts in third-grade math, Murphy said.
She shared the following statistics about the achievement of Hoover students in 2016 compared to state and national averages in various subjects:
- English — 83.5 percent of Hoover students were deemed proficient in English, compared to averages of 51 percent statewide and 61 percent nationally. Also, 75 percent of Hoover 11th-graders showed proficiency by scoring at least an 18 out of 36 on the English portion of the ACT college prep test.
- Math — 67 percent of Hoover students were deemed proficient in math, compared to 23 percent statewide and 41 percent nationally. Also, 47 percent of Hoover 11th-graders showed proficiency by scoring at least a 22 out of 36 on the math portion of the ACT college prep test.
- Reading — 59 percent of Hoover students were deemed proficient in reading, compared to 34 percent statewide and 44 percent nationally. Also, 54 percent of Hoover 11th-graders showed proficiency by scoring at least at 22 out of 36 on the reading portion of the ACT college prep test.
- Science — 57 percent of Hoover students were deemed proficient in science, compared to 24 percent statewide and 36 percent nationally. Also, 45 percent of Hoover 11th-graders were deemed proficient by scoring at least a 23 out of 36 on the science portion of the ACT college prep test.
Education officials also now are measuring gains made by students. Tests indicate that 84.5 percent of Hoover students made at least one year’s worth of progress in English in 2016, which is a 2.7 percentage point increase from the previous year, Murphy said.
Also, the percentage of students progressing at least one year was 89 percent in math (up 7 percentage points), 82 percent in reading (up 2.9 percentage points) and 84 percent in science (not measured the previous year).
Among special education students, the percentage of students progressing at least one year was 63 percent in English, 72 percent in math and 66 percent in reading and science, Murphy said.
“That’s commendable, considering the struggles that so many of those students face,” she said.
Graduation and ACT college prep test
Ninety-three percent of the class of 2015 for Hoover’s two high schools graduated on a regular four-year schedule, which was a half-percentage point increase from 2014, Murphy said. Some of the other 7 percent are still taking classes to graduate in their fifth year, and others completed special education courses but did not officially graduate, she said.
The actual dropout rate for Hoover City Schools is 2.3 percent, Murphy said. “We want 100 percent of them to graduate, but most school districts would just be elated to have (a) 2.3 percent [dropout rate],” she said.
The average ACT score for students in Hoover City Schools was 22.5 out of 36 in both 2016 and 2015, Murphy said. That’s a drop from 23.3 in 2014, but 2015 was the first year that all 11th-graders were required to take the test, so the scores were expected to drop, she said. In Hoover, the number of students taking the ACT increased from 889 in 2014 to 1,079 in 2015.
Statewide, the average ACT score dropped from 20.6 in 2014 to 19.1 in 2015, Murphy said.
Twenty-three percent of Hoover City Schools students — 244 — scored a 28 or higher composite score. One had the highest possible score of 36. On the individual parts of the test, 14 students scored a 36 in English, 10 scored a 36 in reading, nine scored a 36 in math, and seven scored a 36 in science.
Eighty-four percent of the class of 2016 were accepted by at least one of their top three college choices, and 46 percent were offered scholarships totaling more than $60 million, Murphy said. The graduates accepted more than $20 million of those scholarship offers, officials said this past spring.
Eighty-nine percent of the Hoover City Schools Class of 2016 went to either a two-year or four-year college, while 4 percent went into the military or straight into the workforce, Murphy said. About 7 percent had no immediate plans, so a goal is to help more students develop a plan for life after graduation, she said.
Hoover officials are talking about offering more vocational training, she said. “We have some students who don’t want to go to college and don’t need to go to college, and, hey, they need to get out and have a productive life,” she said.
Murphy said she is pleased with where the school district is academically, but “we’ve not arrived … We have a lot of work to do.”
Financially, Murphy talked about how the school district ended 2016 in the black for the first time in many years. The school district's chief financial officer told the school board Monday night that Hoover City Schools took in about $500,000 more than it spent in 2016, which was the first time the school district has ended in the black since 2011.
Some of that was due to millions of dollars worth of cuts made in expenses, an increase in funding from the city and higher-than-anticipated property and sales tax revenues.
Murphy also talked about some financial moves the school board authorized Monday night that are expected to save more than $5 million over time. That includes paying off up to $7.5 million worth of bonds that were issued in 2010 and refinancing what’s left of a 2005 bond issue. Read more about those financial moves here.
“Our future really is bright,” Murphy told the chamber today. “I’m so excited about the collaborative working relationship that we already have going [with the new mayor and City Council].”
There are still challenges ahead, but “we can do something about the challenges that are in front of us,” she said.