Local schools overcome the odds to be name Torchbearer Schools

No excuses. Forget poverty. Just keep your eye on the prize. That's philosophy is behind the success of four schools in central Alabama that excel despite the odds.

These are called Torchbearer Schools. Hillview Elementary School of Jefferson County, Phillips Elementary School of Marion County, Sycamore School of Talladega County, and Westhills Elementary School of Bessemer.

By all measures they should be failing. But they're not.

They give their students structure. One principal said children often do what they think is expected of them. If you expect excellence, that's what they will try to achieve. The schools don't let economic status stand in their way.

The schools have at least an 80 percent poverty rate. Still, 80 percent of their students scored at level three or four on the Alabama reading and math tests.

The award ceremony for the schools will take place February 19 in Montgomery.