State Superintendent Responds To Huntsville School Board’s Requests

Posted on: 5:33 pm, August 14, 2013, by , updated on: 11:06am, August 15, 2013

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It starts with a letter.

This letter from the Huntsville City School Board asks for the methodology used to assign a number rating to schools under the Accountability Act.  It also requests the ratings for all schools, instead of just the failing ones.

We caught up with State Superintendent Tommy Bice as he spoke at Calhoun Community College on Wednesday.

He says the school board will get the methodology they asked for.

“I actually, last night when I stopped by the office going back through Montgomery, signed an official memo to them with those business rules attached,” said Dr. Bice.  “There’s no secret as to how those calculations are made.”

Dr. Tommy Bice

Dr. Tommy Bice

He says the numbers behind these numbers are really too difficult to sum up simply.

“It’s a combination of reading and math put together into a score for achievement that we did to follow the intent of the law,” Dr. Bice.

So what about the other request?  The letter from the school board also asks for the same numbers to be released for every school in Alabama.

And here’s where Bice’s explanation takes a turn.

He says he doesn’t want to release those numbers – the ones used to single out failing schools – because they’re flawed.

“We purposefully didn’t do the entire ranking of every school in the state once we got to six percent, because we see some flaws with the designations.  So why in the world would I want to apply that to every school in the state of Alabama?”

The legislature put forth clear business rules for creating the numbers, according to Bice, but he doesn’t think those numbers tell the story of schools.

“The bottom line is proficiency in mathematics in 4th grade is this.  We need to look at each individual school and look at how far they are away from that, regardless of what the school down the street may be doing,” said Dr. Bice.

So the state legislature crafted a law around numbers used to single out failing schools.  And the numbers the law generated?

Bice says frankly, “I don’t see it as valuable at all to help students learn.”