In its first such grade, Gulf Shores High School is the only Baldwin County high school to receive an A on report cards released last week by the Alabama Department of Education.These are the first …
In its first such grade, Gulf Shores High School is the only Baldwin County high school to receive an A on report cards released last week by the Alabama Department of Education.
These are the first reports released by the department since the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is also the first one given to Gulf Shores High, which opened its doors in 2019. In this first-ever grading for the system, the city district is tied for the 10th-best grade (92) in the state.
Overall, Baldwin County Public Schools received a B (85). Orange Beach City Schools did not receive its own report card yet.
Superintendent Matt Akin said the state report card results are an indication that the system is on the right track.
"The city of Gulf Shores started Gulf Shores City Schools because we wanted more when it comes to education for our students. Earning an A on the first report card certainly means we are headed in the right directions," Akin said. "It also speaks to the dedication and work that our teachers and administrators are doing and certainly our students. The work our students are doing doesn't happen without the support of our parents."
The state report cards are calculated using results from:
• Academic achievement
• Academic growth
• Graduation rate
• Progress in English language proficiency
Akin said the individual schools and district are graded on test score in ELA (English language arts), math and science.
"They look at how well our students are performing but also the growth individual students made from one year to the next," Akin said.
From its inception after splitting from the countywide school district, Gulf Shores City Schools has emphasized personalized learning for every student. When asked what steps the district has taken to get the A on the state report card, Akin credited that system as well as the teachers.
"You are not going to score well if you treat everyone the same. You really have to know your students and their academic level and where their strengths and weaknesses are. We have focused on that since day one," Akin said. "The other thing that is really important is hiring great teachers and supporting those teachers and giving them the resources they need to teach. At the end of the day that is what it comes down to. Quality teachers."
When asked how the district will work to keep the A grade, Akin pointed to two plans.
"The ongoing initiatives that we have like what we are doing in the STEAM Collaborative Center. Kids are floating between classrooms and getting the help they need no matter what academic level they are on. I think that is the future of learning that we are working toward," Akin said.
The second initiative is thanks to the Dolphin Foundation.
"The initiative that we have that is supported by the Dolphin Foundation for our teachers to earn National Board Certification, we are on track for about 35% of our teachers to earn that certification. I think that is a very important process that will continue to grow, continue to support our teachers and help those teachers teach our kids," Akin said.
Another key to the district's success in Akin's eyes is the support of the city of Gulf Shores as well as the team effort between the teachers, parents and community.
"It doesn't happen without the support of the city. That is financial support but also personnel support. Anything we need they have provided," Akin said.
Akin has been at the helm of Gulf Shores City Schools since the beginning. When asked what the A on the state report card meant to him, he said, "It is special. You certainly want to live up to the expectations and our community has high expectations. I think what it shows is that, in the beginning, we are living up to the expectations. The reason I say in the beginning is we certainly want to continue to improve. We are not going to rest on making an A. We want to continue to get better, but I think it shows that we are meeting the expectations that the city of Gulf Shores had when they formed the school system."