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Opinion | We have a new “failing” schools list, another example of just how stupid the Accountability Act really is

Larry Lee

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The 2013 Alabama Accountability Act decreed that we would come up with a list of “failing” schools each year. The Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, said the list would be the bottom 6 percent of all public schools.

Supposedly, this was so we could give scholarships to private schools for students in these schools. But, as time has now shown, this claim is bogus. At last count, there were 3,668 total AAA scholarships, but only 1,226 — 33.4 percent — of them went to students “zoned” for a failing school. The reality is that the number who actually ever attended a failing school is much, much less.

To see how absurd this all is, you have to bring in the scores from the last A-F school report card.

The new “failing” school list names 76 schools. Here is where nonsense really raises its head.

Common sense says that a “failing” must get the lowest score on the letter grade list, which is an F. But of the 76 schools, only 16 of them got an F. And 14 of them got a C, the other 46 were Ds.

It is ridiculous. Plain and simple.

A friend who teaches at Loachapoka High in Lee County summarized the nonsense well. He points out his school brought ACT scores up from an average of 13 to 15.4, a 20 percent increase, got a C on the state report card and were put on the “failing” list. They were not on it last year.

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Talk about taking the wind out of a school’s staff.

Another example of how worthless this list is. Of the 76 schools, 30 of them are high schools.

That’s 40 percent, though statewide high schools aren’t nearly 40 percent of all schools.

Why so many high schools? It’s the way scores are computed. The ONLY measure used to determine placing is ACT scores of eleventh graders. That’s it. One score from one grade counts for everything.

Of these 30, only three were an F on the report card while seven got a C. The rest, 20, got a D.

Other that being on the same “failing” list, these schools have two other things in common: Some 91.5 percent of their 17,663 students are black, and 66.2 percent get free-reduced lunches.

How many eleventh graders in a school such as this are planning to go to college? How many of them are going to bust their butt to make good on the ACT?

But, but, but the proponents of the accountability act say, we want to help kids in these situations? There are seven schools on this year’s “failing” list that have been there EVERY YEAR the list has been published. And show me somewhere in the legislation that says schools that have been identified as struggling should get help to improve.

Guess what? You won’t because it is not there.

Friends, if you keep on doing what you been doing, you will keep on getting what you been getting. How much longer do we allow the accountability act to prove this over and over?

 

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