Passing grades

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 2/2/18

The Alabama State Department of Education released grades for K-12 public schools in Alabama Thursday for the 2016-17 school year, with Jasper City Schools earning a B score (84) and Walker County Schools receiving a C (79).

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Passing grades


The Alabama State Department of Education released grades for K-12 public schools in Alabama Thursday for the 2016-17 school year, with Jasper City Schools earning a B score (84) and Walker County Schools receiving a C (79).

A “C” score was the state average of a report card that takes a number of factors into consideration and assigns a percentage to each scoring measure: academic achievement (20 percent), academic growth (30 percent), graduation rate (30 percent), college and career readiness (10 percent) and chronic absenteeism (10 percent).

Academic achievement is a measure of proficiency in reading and math by examining ACT Aspire test results, even though the state department of education voted to no longer use ACT Aspire, deeming it a flawed measurement of academic success that doesn’t align with Alabama Standards taught in classrooms across the state.

In the state report card, academic growth is determined using multiple years of data to examine reading and math improvement. Chronic absenteeism, as measured in the report, constitutes students who have missed 15 or more excused and unexcused school days during the academic year.

Walker County and Jasper City schools have graduation rates above the state average of 87 percent. Walker County Schools has a graduation rate of 89.6 percent, while Jasper City Schools graduation rate is 91 percent. Both school systems showed room for improvement in academic achievement, with Walker County Schools at just over 57 percent proficient in key subject areas and Jasper City Schools at over 67 percent proficient.

In Walker County, Cordova Elementary was the only county school to receive an A score, 92. In Jasper, Memorial Park Elementary was the lone city school to receive an A, with a very high score of 97. Bankhead Middle and Jasper High (then Walker High) both received scores of 83, making them the only city and county schools to receive B’s.

All other schools received C scores, with the exception of Carbon Hill High and Curry High, who both made D scores of 65.

Of all county high schools, Oakman High School had the highest score of a 79, followed closely by Cordova High School with a 76.

Walker County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jason Adkins said while their school system scored the same as most across the state, he wants to see scores improve.

He said a team is being assembled to communicate with high performing schools in the district to learn successful strategies that could be implemented in schools that didn’t score as well.

“We have an elementary school that made an A and a middle school that made a B, and if they can do it, we all can do it,” Adkins said. “It may be such that things aren’t necessarily wrong in terms of effort, they just need to be refined in terms of what’s more efficient.”

Adkins said he doesn’t believe the The Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative has been implemented at Curry High and Carbon Hill High, which he wants to change. Both schools received D grades in part due to low math and science testing scores, which AMSTI is designed to improve. The superintendent also wants AP coursework to be available to students at those schools.

An examination of scheduling and further counseling will also be efforts made to improve scores, Adkins said.

“I think we can definitely improve on those scores. Although we’re not embarrassed as a whole, there are spots where we definitely need to improve, and we’re going to do that. We want to see the overall grade up past average and to above average,” Adkins said.

Dr. Ann Jackson, superintendent of Jasper City Schools, said she is pleased with the B score the district received, but says there are many flaws in how schools are scored on the state report card — from using ACT Aspire results to making excused absences count against students.

“It’s a flawed assessment, because it did not assess what students were being taught. It didn’t match the standards,” Jackson said. “The state school board was continuously, up until last month, trying to define how we were going to be graded, what the indicators would be. So we were being measured on something from last year that we didn’t even know we would be measured on.”

She said counting excused and unexcused absences together, with 15 or more per academic year being deemed “chronic absenteeism,” is unfortunate for students with chronic illnesses and for younger children who are building up their immune systems. She said it will also hurt students who take trips to visit college campuses. Such visits are typically labeled as excused absences.

Jackson said the school district will continue, however, to enhance academics and provide a quality education.

“This is just a snapshot. It’s one measure that doesn’t fully convey all of the great things that are happening everyday in our schools,” Jackson said. “We’ll certainly continue to work hard to make improvements and provide the best possible education for our students.”

The following is a full list of scores for public schools in Walker County and the City of Jasper:

Jasper City

Maddox Intermediate: 75

Memorial Park Elementary: 97

T.R. Simmons Elementary: 79

Jasper High (then Walker High): 83

Walker County

Bankhead Middle: 83

Carbon Hill Elementary: 72

Carbon Hill High: 65

Cordova Elementary: 92

Cordova High: 76

Curry Elementary: 77

Curry High: 65

Curry Middle: 78

Dora High: 74

Lupton Jr. High: 76

Oakman High: 79

Oakman Middle: 76

Parrish Elementary: 71

Sumiton Elementary: 79

Sumiton Middle: 75

Valley Jr. High: 79