Full ‘school’ report cards detail data

Published 3:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

After releasing letter grades for school systems last week, the Alabama Department of Education has released more data from the report for the public.

The information is on the state education department’s website, but department officials are still working to make the information more publically accessible.

Letter grades released last week showed Troy City Schools improved overall from a C (79) to a B (82) while Pike County Schools dropped from a B (84) to a C (79).

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Early on Wednesday, the superintendents were still waiting to see more information released by the state department.

“I haven’t seen that data yet,” said Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools. “We might have some pieces and parts of the full report card that came in individual reports, but we don’t have the final numbers.”

Dr. Lee Hicks, superintendent of Troy City Schools, conferred that he is also waiting to see that data.

The state department had planned to release the data on Dec. 31, 2018, but delayed the publication of the data until Jan. 2 to ensure the data was all correctly compiled.

The federal report is still not out on the website, but the scores on categories that the state graded the school systems on have been released.

The categories factored into the state report card grade include academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rates, college and career ready data, chronic absenteeism, enrollment by student subgroup.

Bazzell said the data is much more informative than just the letter grade.

“I think it’s always better the more information we can give to the public the better,” Bazzell said. “Trying to narrow it down to a simple letter may not tell the whole story. If we had straight A’s, I’d still feel the same; a letter grade is not the best indicator. It doesn’t tell the whole story.”

The format in which the data was released does not provide more information about the results, but the scores do provide a marker to see where improvement or decline came from for each school system.

Overall, Pike County Schools dropped in every category from the previous year, although the drops were slight in most areas.

The biggest drop for the system came in one of the two most heavily-weighted categories in the report: academic growth. The category is worth 30 percent of the grade, which is matched only by graduation rate. The grade is determined based on “individual students who demonstrate improvement in reading and math from one year to the next using multiple years of data.”

The school system had a terrific score for academic growth last year at 96.95, nearly nine points higher than the state average last year. This year, the score dropped to just 81.70, which is nearly 10 points lower than the state average of 91.58 for the year.

The school system’s graduation rate also dropped slightly from 85.2 percent to 85 percent. The state average is 89 percent.

The system dropped as well in academic achievement, dropping from 67.53 percent to 66.13 percent. The indicator represents the percentage of students “proficient … in the areas of reading/English and math utilizing assessments in tested grades.”

College and career readiness for the school system is still higher than the state average at 75.46 percent of students, but it is a decline from the school’s performance of 77 percent last year. The state average was 71.46 percent.

Chronic absenteeism increased at the system during the 2017-2018 year to 18.56 percent from 16.28 percent from the prior year. The state average is just lower at 18.28 percent.

A new category that was graded but not factored into the letter grade is “progress in English language proficiency.”

The school system significantly outperformed the state at large in this area with a score of 71.43 compared to a state average of 42.54.

Bazzell said that system leaders will be looking at the data now that it has been released and finding ways to continue to improve wherever possible.

Troy City Schools found increased success in academic growth in the most recent year.

The school system had previously scored an 89.06 in the category, but improved that score to 92.04 in the new report.

The graduation rate at the school dropped slightly from 90.8 to 90.

The system took its biggest leap of improvement in the academic achievement category, where it improved from a score of 54.28 to 65.3. That is still slightly below the state average of 66.38 percent, but brings the system more in line with the state average than in the previous year.

The school system also improved in the college and career readiness category, which represents the percentage of students who meet at least one college-and-career-ready indicator. The school jumped to 70.31 percent from 69 percent.

Chronic absenteeism actually went up in the system from 24.45 percent to 25.35 percent of students having 15 or more absences in the school system.

Troy City Schools far outpaced the state average in progress in English language proficiency, scoring 75.

Hicks said the letter grade shows the hard work put in by everyone involved in the system to improve.

“It’s a credit to our teachers, administrators, students and parents who accepted the challenges we gave them,” Hicks said. “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.”