Huntsville City Schools Still Pushing For Answers On How Failing School List Gets Assembled

Posted on: 6:16 pm, August 13, 2013, by , updated on: 08:50am, August 14, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – You may remember the infamous list.  It shows a set of scores over the last six years for  Alabama’s failing schools under the Accountability Act.

But the Huntsville City School Board has some questions about that list.

For one, how do you know which schools represent the bottom six percent of schools, if the Department of Education doesn’t have the same numbers crunched for the passing schools?  If you don’t have the same numbers for all the schools – how do you compare them?

Huntsville City School Board Member David Blair says, “To rank them, you would have to have that.  If you’re going to have a ranking of schools and know what the bottom six percent are, you would need to have all of the data in there to be able to say these were the six percent that year.”

WHNT News 19 contacted the Alabama Department of Education for answers.  In our email exchange with Michael Sibley, Communications Director, he says programmers generated the list of the bottom six percent from raw data and that it would take weeks to create the same scores for the rest of the state’s schools.

Besides, where did those numbers come from?

Blair says all they really know is that they represent a mash up of test scores.

“There’s different tests for different grades, different students.  It’s kind of a conglomeration of things that are going on for each school, so we want to understand how they came up with that single number for each school,” said Blair.

So the Huntsville City School Board sent a public letter.  It says they want to know where the scores come from, and more than that, they want the data for all the state’s schools, not just the failing ones.

They figure in a city that monitors space stations, we could probably crunch our way through a database of test scores quickly enough.

“Certainly here in the Rocket City, we figured we could look at the methodology and say it makes sense or it doesn’t make sense,” said Blair.

The state provided some basic info when they released the failing schools list, but they’ve been mum on the requests to follow-up on their list.

It’s a big deal for a city that depends on intellectual standards to market itself.

Blair points out, “When somebody’s looking at it, they’ll simply look at it and go ‘Oh wow, a lot of failing schools.’  It hurts your ability to really attract businesses into this area.”

On Wednesday, State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice has a visit planned to north Alabama.  We’ll have these two requests for him on behalf of Huntsville City Schools and Board Member David Blair:

“We want to see the methodology for the generation of the number, and we would like to see the scores for all the schools across the state of Alabama across the last six years,” said Blair.