Boaz Ranked Fourth In State For Graduation Rate

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The Alabama Department of Education released graduation rates statewide, and Boaz is the fourth highest in the state.

In Boaz City Schools, 92 percent of students who were freshmen in 2007 graduated in 2011.  While they only trail some Birmingham-suburb schools, administrators say the ranking is not good enough.

"We still have eight percent that did not get across that stage," said Mark Isley, Boaz Secondary Schools Director.  "We cannot celebrate truly until we're at 100 percent."

Isley says some people say that's impossible, but he doesn't think so.

"The number one factor to increase your graduation rate and to get to 100 percent
the only way you can do it is not a program, it's not going to be anything other than a caring adult," said Isley.

But Boaz still has a program.  His name is Harold, and he's called the 'dropout monkey'.  He's a teaching tool for third graders who initially think he's a new pal.

"The dropout monkey really is not their friend.  The reason that the dropout monkey wants them to drop out is so he can jump on their back," said Isley.  "And he will.  And he'll never let up until, literally, the day they die."

Isley has the kids actually put Harold on their back, and the dropout monkey weighs them down.

"They literally tell me, 'Get you and your monkey out of here,' and they've got the point," said Isley.  "I'm happy when they do that.  I would be concerned if they said they still like the monkey."

This was also the first year for Boaz's E-4 program.  It stands for Expectations for Excellence, Every day for Everyone.

"We believe that sort of mindset will eventually get us to 100 percent," said Isley.  "I firmly believe we can do it, even though the odds are highly against us."

Statewide, the Alabama graduation rate is 72 percent.  It is based on students who began high school in 2007 and graduated on time in 2011.  Students who finished late or earned GED's are included in the dropout rate.