Report card grades for school systems released

Published 3:00 am Sunday, December 30, 2018

The letter grades are in for Alabama school systems, and Troy City Schools and Pike County Schools have swapped places in the latest report.

The Alabama State Department of Education initiated the new assessment tool last year and many schools improved grades in the second report card while some systems remained the same or received lower scores.

Troy City Schools improved from a “C” last year with a score of 79 to a “B” this year with a score of 85.

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“It’s a credit to our teachers, administrators, students and parents who accepted the challenges we gave them. It shows you that, again, when you do things right, you’ll improve. We’re proud of the score; now we have to try to improve on it for next year.”

Hicks said the first year the grades were released, there was uncertainty surrounding the state school board.

“Last year people judged us on having a 79 on the prototype when we didn’t even know what we were going to be judged on with the change in superintendent,” Hicks said. “We took the information given to us and improved on it.”

Hicks said partnerships with institutions and business as well as a focus on providing a variety of extracurricular opportunities such as theater, band and sports have helped the system thrive.

“The students responded to everything that we’ve thrown at them,” Hicks said. “They’re the ones that have accomplished this and we appreciate the people that support our school system. We’re going to always keep pushing forward.”

Pike County Schools did not fare as well on the report, dropping from a “B” score of 84 to a “C” score of 79.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell said he has been against giving letter grades to school systems from the start.

“Trying to take everything and aggregate it into a single letter grade not one of the best things that we can do,” Bazzell said. “I encourage people to look deeper into the data – the percentage of students enrolled receiving dual enrollment credit, the percentage receiving meaningful STEM experience, average SAT score. There’s lots of data out there about individual school systems that are not factored into a single letter grade that really better inform the public.”

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey acknowledged that there needs to be a deeper look than just a letter grade.

“The 2018 State Accountability report tells us something valuable about a school or school system, but it does not tell us everything about that school or system,” Mackey said. “Based primarily on a particular assessment, it is a snapshot in time. When stacked together year after year, similar to snapshots of your family, these pictures of school academic performance can certainly be used to monitor academic progress and growth. But when we describe our children, we use more than snapshots; we talk about their personalities, struggles, challenges, aspirations, successes.”

Mackey said, for example, there are many excellent, hardworking teachers in lower-scoring

schools just as in the higher performing ones. There are “high-flying students who

graduate from struggling schools every year. Again, the school grades tell us something – but certainly not everything – about a school. We appreciate our teachers, school leaders, and parents who work with our students to ensure their success and academic growth.”

The ALSDE oversees millions of data points and works with school systems across the state on the submission of critical data to provide valuable information. The full report will encompass several components that give a snapshot of how Alabama schools, and ultimately the state, is performing.

The full report will include additional data including, but not limited to:

• National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Data

• Student Assessment/Participation Data

• Per Pupil Expenditures

• Professional Qualifications

The goal  of the Alabama State report Card, according to the state website, is “to provide the public with information that is easy to understand, spark conversation, ensure schools are accountable for their data, and ultimately bring about action for the betterment of Alabama public schools.” The completed Alabama State Report Card will contain an array of information providing unique characteristics of Alabama schools and systems, including but not limited to:

• Academic Achievement

• Academic Growth

• Graduation Rates

• College and Career Ready Data

• Chronic Absenteeism

• Enrollment by Student Subgroup