But after all the uproar and interest, the number of statewide transfers allowed by the act may surprise you.
The Accountability Act enabled 719 students across Alabama to leave a “failing” school to a higher-performing school with the same system. But just 52 transferred to private schools statewide.
According to statewide numbers tallied by the Alabama Department of Education, Montgomery and Mobile saw the most internal transfers under the new state law.
Decatur allowed 122 internal transfers under the new law.
But Birmingham, which recorded the most “failing” schools in the state, saw just 62 student transfers within Birmingham City Schools under the Alabama Accountability Act.
And Huntsville, which has the second most “failing” schools in the state, permitted just six transfers. In Huntsville, the system’s 43-year-old desegregation order took priority over the requirements of the state act.
Our news partners, The Huntsville Times/Al.com, have this related story on these new numbers.
The Alabama Accountability Act, passed by a GOP majority this spring over the noisy objections of Democratic lawmakers, allows students to flee so-called “failing” schools by three methods.
Students may transfer to a non-failing school within the same system, request permission to enter a neighboring system, or switch to a private school.
The family of a student who transfers to a participating private school qualifies for a refunded tax credit of approximately $3,500 to offset tuition.
However, the law clearly allows school boards to reject transfers from neighboring systems. The state reports just 18 students were able to leave a “failing” school for a different system.
No student in any of the state’s larger metro systems received a transfer to a suburban system under the new law.
The law holds school boards responsible for providing bus rides for transfer students, provided the system already has bus service. The law does not provide for transportation for students leaving for private school or for a different system.
The Alabama Department of Education this year, in meeting the new law, identified 78 ‘failing’ schools across the state using two new standards. One method looks at passing rates on basic reading and math tests over the previous six years. Another identifies the schools previously listed as eligible for a federal grant for persistently low-achieving schools.
Challen Stephens with our news partners The Huntsville Times/Al.com contributed to this report. Read the full article here.