The council announced the finalists on Thursday. Lincoln Elementary School and Munford Middle School were also named banner schools for 2013.
Weaver High Principal Mike Allison said the school received the designation because of its ICU program, which he started in the last school year.
“ICU stands for exactly what it stands for in a hospital — intensive care unit,” Allison said. “If you’re sick, you’d go there, and if you’re failing classes, we need to find a treatment for these students.”
Allison said the program works one-on-one with students to make sure they complete all their assignments and don’t get behind in work.
“The problem with failing is, you have to make that class up,” Allison said. “So they’re already behind, and then they have to go to summer school, or take two math classes. It piles up.”
When Allison became principal at Weaver High during the 2012-13 school year, he said, the failure rate was one of the highest in Calhoun County Schools. With the teaching staff, he implemented the ICU program to figure out the reasons students were failing.
“It’s not about failing grades, it’s about making sure students learn,” Allison said. “Most of these students are failing because they’re not doing assignments. If they do high-quality work on high-quality assignments, they’re going to learn the material. Grades are an afterthought.”
So far, the program seems to be working. Allison said in the 2011-12 school year, 222 of Weaver High students had failed at least one class, with 432 failed classes overall. In the first semester of this school year, just 82 students had failed a class, with 114 failed classes overall.
“I still think 82 failing students is too high,” Allison said. “We’re trying to work that down even more.”
The Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools, a professional development group for administrators, started awarding banner schools in 2001, and had 125 nominations this year. The award recognizes schools that provide unique and innovative programs for their students.
Allison will attend the council’s annual banner luncheon next month in Montgomery and hopes to take several Weaver High teachers with him.
“They’re the ones doing all the hard work,” Allison said. “I’m just fortunate enough to be part of this great team.”
Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.