Schools ‘pleased’ with grades

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 11, 2001

Features Editor

The state Board of Education released its annual

report card on K-12 public education Thursday and the schools statewide received a B- just as the year before.

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The State Board of Education School Report Card 2000-2001 contains 23 key education indicators that are designed to measure how well students, schools and school systems perform. Nine report card items grade schools and school systems in Alabama from an A to F on indicators ranging from academic achievement to financial support.

Superintendent of Pike County Schools John Key,

who admittedly is not an advocate of the state’s grading system, said the report cards are of little value to the county school system.

"They aren’t comparing apples to apples," he said. "It’s more like comparing apples to bananas. If everybody was on a level playing field, that would be different. There is a great disparity in the funding between school systems and that is a varible that has a major impact on the ‘grades.’"

Key said to compare low-funded school systems with systems like Mountain Brook and Auburn, which are highly funded, is not a fair comparison.

"For example, the Troy City School System has about $1 million more to run its school system than we have," Key said. "Most of the funding goes into instructional programs, so theorectially, students in school systems with more revenue should perform better. So, for what we have to work with in the Pike County School System, we had a good report card."

The overall performance of the school system graded a C and the system received an overall "clear" status except for Pike County High School which was put on "caution" status.

"Caution means that half or more of your students didn’t score above a certain percentile on the SAT," Key said. "We are not overly concerned by that because Pike County High was only slightly below. If we had been 5 or 10 percent below, that would have been reason for concern."

Key said he was very pleased that the county’s high schools at Brundidge and Goshen received an A on overall graduation exams.

Willie C. Thomas, assistant superintendent of Troy City Schools, was guardedly pleased with the system’s report card.

The city’s schools are academically "clear" based on the national average on the SAT and Thomas was pleased by that. However, the system received an overall C+ on performance.

"We are not please with a C+," Thomas said. "We want to do better than that. We strive for A’s and that’s what we want."

However, Thomas said the grade of C is not indicitive of what the students in the Troy City School System "can do."

"We’re better than that," he said. "Some of the students don’t take the tests seriously enough, althought we try to impress upon them how important the tests are. C is average. Our students are better than average."

Like the county superintendent, Thomas said the state’s measuring stick is like comparing apples and oranges.

"It is very difficult to compare students in one section of the state to another or even one school system to the other," he said. "But, that is the system our state Board of Education has chosen and it does give us some idea of where we stand."

Report card or not, Key and Thomas said their school systems are striving to provide

their students with the best education possible.