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Alabama Education gets C in first report card

By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

Schools around the state received an overall score of C in their first ever report card on the state of public schools around Alabama.

The report, released by the Alabama State Department of Education, measured everything from individual schools to states. Measurements for schools depended upon if they had a 12th grade level in their schools.

All schools accounted for chronic absenteeism, academic achievement, and academic growth. Schools with a 12th grade level considered college and career prep and graduation rates in addition to the three.

The department’s measurement of academic achievement was based on scores from the ACT Aspire, which the board got rid of last year. Since its implementation in 2014, Alabama 10th graders have performed poorly on the test, and the results showed in the academic achievement measurement that left the state with a D.

The ending of the program was supported by former state Superintendent Michael Sentance, who sought to make Alabama’s educational system rely less on federal standards.

But not everyone agrees with the methods used to calculate Alabama’s score.

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One school administrator, Marshall County Superintendent Cindy Wigley, is not satisfied with their methodology used by the state Department of Education. Wigley in a statement said the state department did not accurately count one of the schools in her districts.

Brindlee Mountain Middle School in Marshall Country did not qualify to be counted as an individual school because of its merger with Brindlee Mountain High School in 2017. Wigley said that the school boasted a high achievement result and that it was essentially diluted by the high school.

The final score for Brindleem Mountain High School was a D.

“This is simply not right! They are our students,” Wigley wrote. “Not allowing their student-earned success to be part of the calculation is not acceptable and clearly not transparent to the public.”

Wigley said she expressed her concerns to the department, including State Board of Education members. The superintendent said the department was unwilling to assist her.

“This situation and the unwillingness of the ALSDE to allow factual student outcomes to be used in our grade calculation is an example of how the A-F Report Card does not provide a true representation of a school systems overall performance,” Wigley said. “In the 2016-2017 school year the Brindlee Mountain Middle School administration, faculty and students earned an academic growth of 97.48%, the third highest in the district.”

Others took the results as an opportunity to start conversations on education in the state. Caroline Novak, president of A+ Education Partnership, encouraged parents and school officals to take the scores as a learning opportunity.

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“Every school in Alabama is faced with different challenges and each has different strengths and weaknesses,” Novak said in a statement. “The release of the Alabama State Report Card is an opportunity to learn more about the programs, initiatives and other areas where school leaders want to invest and how they can collectively improve student achievement.”

The report card is part of Every Student Succeeds Act, which Obama signed into law in 2015.

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