More than 600 Muscogee County students asked to transfer high schools this year because of low standardized test scores, but some of those decided to stay at their home schools after all, principals said.
After Carver, Kendrick, Jordan and Spencer high schools were designated as “Needs Improvement” schools by the state, 611 students at those schools put in applications to transfer to two better-performing schools in the county, Hardaway High and Northside High.
Needs Improvement schools are those that have not made adequate yearly progress for at least two years under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Students at those schools are eligible to transfer to better-performing schools in the district.
According to official numbers from the Muscogee County School District, 36 students reported not accepting their transfer assignment, but there could be more students that decided to stay at their home school, some principals said.
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About 150 students applied to transfer out of Spencer High before the start of school in August. Spencer principal Reggie Griffin said some of those students who applied for transfers may have decided to stay. He said travel time to Northside and Hardaway, as well as having to get up earlier, is a deterrent for some students.
“The majority of our kids don’t want to go way out there,” Griffin said. The school off Victory Drive actually has experienced some enrollment growth over last year, going from 837 at the end of the 2008-2009 school year to 857 on Aug. 19, he said.
Schools complete enrollment counts frequently at the beginning of the school year because the average daily enrollment for the first 20 days after Labor Day determines the amount of funding the system gets from the state for teachers and materials.
Griffin said Spencer’s enrollment fluctuates because of its zone’s large military population, but that it’s “highly doubtful” that more than 100 students left the school.
“We are picking up kids every day,” he said. “Our numbers are strong, we’re doing well.”
Ricky Stone, the principal at Jordan High, also said he thinks some students who decided to transfer stayed after all. The school had 134 students apply for transfers.
“We had some that changed their mind before school started, some that came back,” Stone said. The school finished the 2008-2009 school year with 800 students; Stone said the school has about 770 students so far this year.
Carver High had 111 students apply for transfers. Principal Chris Lindsey said the school’s enrollment is slightly below what it was at the end of last year, but he expects it to continue to grow. The school had about 1,050 students in May 2009; the enrollment count on Friday totaled 967.
Some students that chose to stay at Carver rather than apply for and take transfers said they did so because of the school’s “family atmosphere” and academic programs.
Senior Tommy Butler, who is in Carver’s math, science and technology magnet, said he feels like he could compete with students at Hardaway, Columbus and Northside high schools.
“The class size being smaller, the education is better,” he said.
Senior Kiyanna Martin agreed.
“If it was a bigger class, you wouldn’t have time to break it down,” she said.
Jasmine Lee, a senior, said people who worry about the high school’s academics “don’t know Carver.” She said she knows people who have gotten full-ride scholarships to college and that the school performs well in the district’s academic decathlon. Carver placed second in the “super quiz” portion of the event last year and several members won individual medals as well. The school’s graduation rate has also increased steadily over the past three years, going from 46 percent in 2006 to 65.7 percent in 2009.
Kelsie Brown — a freshman in the magnet program and on the football team — has only been at Carver High for a few weeks, but he has already noticed that some people think the school can’t compete in the classroom with Columbus, Hardaway and Northside.
Brown said he was listening to the radio after the Carver-Central scrimmage on Thursday and the announcer mentioned that Carver was an all-black football team.
“What does an all-black team have to do with football, basketball, baseball? They think we can’t succeed in academics because of our skin,” he said.
“Chess,” Butler said. “I’d like to see them play us in chess.”