Madison schools serving as model for what is right in preparing students for college

A new state task force aimed at finding ways to better prepare Alabama high school students for college and careers may want to look to Madison City Schools for ideas.

Madison City high school graduates continue to outperform other school districts when it comes to college and career readiness. Year after year, Bob Jones seniors snag tens of millions of dollars in scholarship offers. ( $30-million-plus in each of the past three years with more than half the graduates each of those years winning scholarships.)

Our students have also consistently outscored counterparts from most other Alabama school districts on their ACT test. Bob Jones students scored an average 23.6 overall ACT score in the last five years compared to a 20.3 overall average for the state.

While there is room for improvement (12 percent of Bob Jones graduates took a remedial course last year compared to a statewide average of 34 percent), Madison schools do a better job than most districts preparing students for college. Additionally, 9 out of 10 seniors have taken at least one course to help them prepare for a career. Madison City’s state-recognized career and technical programs, like Health Science, Engineering and Culinary Arts, give students the opportunity to apply the content learned in the core curriculum in a rigorous, real-world environment. These courses help the students refine their career interest.

Dr. Camille Wright, director of instruction for Madison City Schools, said the goal of Madison City’s instructional strategic plan is to ensure that every student will graduate successfully prepared for college and careers. Such students come prepared without the need for remediation and with the ability to collaborate with peers to problem-solve, think critically and learn continually. “The courses we offer and the instruction we deliver are intentionally crafted to this goal,” said Wright, who also serves on the Joint Advisory committee for K-12 and post-secondary.

Gov. Robert Bentley created the College Career Ready Task Force this week to bring educators and the business community together to strengthen the preparation of students for college and the workforce.  “The result is that more students will be college and career ready and more people will be able to find a good, well-paying job

The Madison school references don’t include the new James Clemens High School because it won’t have its first graduating class until this year. Quality schools explain why Madison school enrollment has climbed 350 students in each of the past two years to 9,300 today.