State says Alabama schools are failing in key subjects

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Academics in Alabama are failing by several key measures. That’s according to a new report released this morning by the Alabama Department of Education.

The new system, which grades everything on an A-F scale, has the state wide proficiency in reading at 38.98%, Mathematics at 43.64% and Science at 34.72%. This contributes to one of the key metrics for the overall grade which factors in academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, college and career readiness and chronic absenteeism.

The department of education describes the report cars as being “designed so parents, educators, stakeholders, and others can easily understand how their schools are doing, just as report cards help parents understand how their children are doing. The goals of the Alabama State Report Card are to provide a starting point, with easy-to-understand and concise information showing how a school is meeting goals, and to make sure that schools are accountable for explaining that to their communities.”

The state’s overall score for the state is 79.00, a C.

Of Alabama’s 137 school systems, 76% received either an A, B, or C; 73% of the schools without a Grade 12 received either an A, B, or C; and 77% of schools with a Grade 12 received an A, B, or C. No school system received an F, but 95 schools without a Grade 12 and 9 schools with a Grade 12 did receive F’s.

Look up your school and school system here.

Act No. 2012-402 of the Alabama Legislature requires an Alabama State Report Card. Federal law, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) also requires an Alabama State Report Card. However, two report cards with different criteria, while offering good information, would be highly confusing to people within a school or school system – as well as parents of schoolchildren.

The concept of the Alabama Report Card is to meet the legal requirements of both laws but with only one unified Report Card. The Alabama State Report Card is about more than just one letter grade. Ultimately, it should spawn conversation about ways to improve public education in the future.

Stephanie Bell, Alabama State Board of Education Representative for District 3, believes the Alabama State Report Card will provide helpful information. “I think it’s a good first step in trying to meet not only the state law but also the federal requirements, which is a challenge, obviously, because the state law was passed before [the Every Student Succeeds Act] was born,” Bell said. “I think they’ve done a very good job [on the report card]. I think it’s going to be helpful for parents and locals. Certainly the focus has to be on the students, and I think that in the end that will be a positive for both the students and their parents. I think it’s also helpful to the teachers in knowing how to meet the needs of students. It’s not supposed to be punitive. It’s supposed to be informative. That’s crucial.”

The unified Report card is still deemed a Prototype because it is not yet finalized. Until February 23rd 2018, the ALSDE will receive public input through a designated e-mail address ALReportCard@alsde.edu. Once received, the input will be reviewed and the previously mentioned Education Organizations and Associations will finalize recommendations on Report Cards.

The final product will be reviewed by the State Superintendent and Alabama State Board of Education and be submitted to the U. S. Department of Education in an Amendment to Alabama’s ESSA Plan. When the Amendment is approved, Alabama will have a state and federally approved Report Card that can be officially issued during the 2018-19 school year and thereafter.

“How local schools and school systems react to these report cards will be telling about the future of education in Alabama. If report cards as viewed as a tool that causes educators, board members, parents and the community at large to meet, assess, and outline a pathway for improvement, then public education in Alabama has a brighter future,” Ed Richardson said.