MONTGOMERY, Ala. – On Thursday, state education officials released a list of schools they deem to be failing. Out of the 75 schools on the list, four are located in the Tennessee Valley.
Columbia High School and Lee High School in Huntsville made the list, as well as North Jackson High in the Jackson County Schools district and Crossville in the DeKalb County Schools system.
The report scores are based on low test scores in reading and math.
According to our news partner AL.com, the Alabama Department of Education is required by state law to identify and label as “failing” the schools that score in the bottom six percent on standardized tests each year.
Alabama high schools began using a new test last spring, the ACT Aspire, to measure achievement in the 10th grade. Low scores on the new test caused more high schools to show up on the list.
Only 18% of tenth graders tested proficient in math last spring, and only 32% of Alabama tenth graders were proficient in reading. Proficiency rates were higher in middle schools and elementary schools, where school systems began implementing the ACT Aspire in 2014.
The list of failing schools was not mentioned during any of the State Board of Education’s proceedings. It was published online at the end of the work session without a mention, AL.com reported.
When asked about the list after it was published, State Superintendent Michael Sentance said he is required to follow the law as written. “The failing school list is just the six percent that are the lowest performing in the state,” he said, adding, “the number of schools that are significantly academically challenged is much larger.”
Sentance said he is concerned about schools being judged based only on one grade’s test results, as many high schools on the list were, but he has no discretion in how the list is determined. “It is what it is,” he said.
Students zoned for “failing” schools can request a transfer to another school in the same system. Or they can use a tax credit, or qualify for a private scholarship supported by tax credits, to help pay for private schools.
The Huntsville Board of Education is meeting tonight at 5 p.m. WHNT News 19 will have team coverage at the meeting and we will be asking about this list of failing schools. We will update you with Huntsville City Schools’ response on-air, on social media, and on the WHNT app.