Huntsville City Schools system releases statement on state’s Education Report Card

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Huntsville City Schools has responded to the Alabama State Department of Education new school report card:

The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) unveiled the new school report card today as a part of the Alabama Accountability Act passed in 2012. The law required ALSDE to come up with a report card with an overall single letter grade for each district and each school in Alabama. This first report card is a prototype, since Alabama will need to receive U.S. Department of Education approval to make sure it also meets all federal reporting requirements.

The 2016-2017 report card uses data from the ACT Aspire Test from Spring 2017 as a major portion of the grade’s calculation.  For the elementary, middle, and P-8 schools, ninety percent of the score will come from the ACT Aspire and ten percent of the score will be from chronic absenteeism. For high schools, fifty percent of the score is from the ACT Aspire, which is taken only by 10th grade students, thirty percent from the graduation rate, ten percent from college and career readiness, and ten percent from chronic absenteeism.  This spring, the State Department of Education voted to discontinue the ACT Aspire and replaced it with the Scantron assessment.  This means that, unlike this year, next year’s report cards will not rely on the ACT Aspire.

Grades in the Huntsville School District were in every letter category.  Superintendent, Dr. Matt Akin is very much in favor of accountability but “disagrees with a school’s grade being based on a single test, adding that these new report cards “do not highlight all of the different measures for success.”  Dr. Akin stated that our school system’s accomplishments and raw potential are what brought him to Huntsville because he saw “more opportunities offered for students than any other school system I’ve seen.”

Dr. Akin says the district knows it challenges, and his team started working on a plan for excellence last year that includes:

  • recruiting & retaining teachers,
  • focusing on literacy rates across all grades,
  • emphasizing college and career readiness for all students,
  • and creating an environment that personalizes learning for all students.

A detailed presentation on the new state report card will be held during tonight’s Board of Education Work Session.  The meeting can be viewed LIVE on ETV on Comcast channel 17, WOW channel 3, over the air on WHIQ 25.5, or on the website at www.HuntsvilleCitySchools.org.

Superintendent Matt Akin told the school board on Thursday that the school system’s marks were mixed, but he doesn’t believe they’re an overall “C” system as the state graded the district.

“We know the areas that we need to improve. We’re working on those areas. We will continue to work,” he said. “We know this community values our scores,” but he added, “We are going to continue to work to get better because our kids deserve it. We want to be a model school system and we think the consent order does provide a path to greatness.”

Michelle Watkins, who represents District 1, said, “All of my schools in my district are failing schools according to the state. And the fact is that we have a lot of work to do in my district. You can’t blame one person. Everyone takes the blame: the parents, the teachers, the principal, the superintendent, the board members, the community. Everybody has a part in this, and somewhere along the line everybody dropped the ball. So what we need to do right now is strategize, re-energize, and get ready to get this boat back to running. District 1 has a lot of bright stars in it, but we can’t highlight bright stars when we have failures identified in our schools.”

Watkins called on everyone in the community to be a part of the solution.