Education Report Card 2017-2018: A (92)
Failing Schools List: None
J.H. Phillips Academy is housed in the reconstructed space of one of Birmingham’s oldest school buildings but is one of the youngest schools in the Birmingham City Schools. The school building, located in Birmingham’s Northside neighborhood of Central City, was built originally in 1923. It was John Herbert Phillips High School until 2002. As Phillips Academy, the school serves student in grades K-8. The school website describes the curriculum as rigorous and comprehensive.
Entrance to Phillips is by application only. The school became an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School for primary years in 2013 and for the middle years in 2015. Phillips Academy is one of three schools in the BCS system that is authorized to teach the IB program. The window for submitting applications for admittance to the 2019-2020 school year at Phillips has closed, and acceptance and denial letters were sent in early March.
Dr. Emeka Nzeocha has been the principal at Phillips Academy since the 2016 school year. Before Nzeocha, Milton Hopkins, the current principal at Jones Valley Middle School, was appointed principal at Phillips in 2014.
According to Education Report Card data and Alabama State Education Department Enrollment Reports, enrollment at Phillips for the 2017- 2018 school year is 703 students. Eighteen students were in pre-K, 44 in kindergarten and 58 in first grade. The second grade enrollment was 63 students, third grade was 53 and fifth grade was 83. Forty-five percent of the students in the school are in sixth through eighth grades — 95 in sixth, 118 in seventh and 106 in eighth.
When Phillips Academy opened in 2007, 475 students were enrolled at the school. By 2010, the enrollment increased to 639 and to 714, by 2014. According to the school website, there are 41 teachers at Phillips Academy.
There are nine private schools within three miles of Phillips Academy that are K-8 or higher. They are: St, Barnabas Regional School, Advent Episcopal School, St Rose Of Lima School, Glen Iris Baptist School, Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School, Islamic Academy of Alabama, Northside Christian School, Ephesus Academy and N.E. Miles Jewish Day School.
Five other schools serve some, but not all, of the grades. They are: Webster Christian School serves kindergarten up to seventh grade students, Arlington School, teaches students in eight through 12th grade, Pilgrim Lutheran School, second and third grade, The Altamont School students are in grades fifth through 12th and Creative Montessori School serves students in pre-K through sixth grade.
St. Barnabas, Creative Montessori, Ephesus, Our Lady of Fatima, Islamic Academy of Alabama and The Altamont School are participating schools in the Alabama Educational Scholarship Program under the Alabama Accountability Act.*
Phillips Academy is the top-performing school in the Birmingham City Schools system, according to the ERC for 2017-2018. The only school to achieve an “A” grade, 84 percent of its students met or exceeded proficiency standards for reading and math combined, and 100 percent of students demonstrated academic growth in those subjects. Every student participated in assessment testing. For reading, 65 percent of students met or passed proficiency and 61 percent were proficient in math. Science scores were significantly lower, only 38 percent of students met or surpassed the standard for proficiency.
Absenteeism, which is one of the factors included in the school overall grade, is low. Ninety-two percent of the students have less than 15 absences in a given school year. The school demographics are in line with the district’s overall makeup. Ninety-six percent of Phillips’ students are African American, compared to 92 percent African American students in the district overall. Economically, the students at Phillip face fewer financial challenges, with 38 percent of the students classified as economically disadvantaged compared to the district’s overall average of 69 percent.
According the U.S. Census Bureau 2017-2013 American Community Survey Estimates for the population in the ZIP code where Phillips Academy is situated, the median household income is $16,295. Just under 40% of the population earns less than the poverty level. Thirty-two percent of the population is white and 48 percent is black or African American. The median age is 39 and 5% of the population, 159 people, are school-aged children between the ages of five and 19. Seventy-nine percent of the population for this ZIP code achieved a high school education or higher. However, since Phillips’ students are chosen by application, they do not all live in the immediate geographic area where the school is situated.
*That scholarship program allows tax credit for donations given to pay for scholarships to students from failing schools. The students must also meet low-income requirements to qualify for the scholarships.