Local results mixed in state school report cards

GradesHAMILTON

- The results are in from the 2017/18 Alabama State Board of Education report card release and grades are mixed for the two Marion County school systems.
The overall grade for schools within the Marion County School system increased from a score of 79 the previous school year to an 87. All the schools in the Marion County School System received either an A or B.  
The Winfield City School System dropped a letter grade from the previous year’s grade.
Marion County School System Superintendent of Education Ann West said she was pleased with the report card this year.
“Our teachers worked diligently with a special summative testing program, Classworks, to improve the system’s academic growth score this year,” she said.
The superintendent explained that Classworks is synced with the SCANTRON test and can use its results to form personalized learning plans for each student in order to optimize student growth.
She said that teachers had students use the Classworks program three to four times throughout the year thus helping provide students and teachers with continued academic direction.
“At this point, although Scantron is still being compared to the ACT Aspire, we know that our data is more accurate because the growth measure was based on how students progressed from the fall administration of Scantron to the spring administration of Scantron,” she said.
West noted that Alabama schools have been aiming at a moving target with the school report cards as the state education department has had to switch the types of tests used to gauge student performance.
West said she feels more confident knowing that this year the system’s academic growth score was determined using SCANTRON test results. Last year, she explained the state department of education had to compare SCANTRON to ACT Aspire test.
According to West, the Marion County School Board of Education declared “no confidence” in the state report because two tests were known to be incomparable. The Winfield City School system also declared no confidence in the test results.
The ACT Aspire was rejected in June 2017, by the Alabama State Board of Education because it was determined that the test did not align with state standards or with teaching curriculum.
West said that Alabama schools will have to make another hurdle in the 2019-2020 school year as it will have to compare DRC results to SCANTRON. She predicts that it wouldn’t be until after the DRC test has been used for one or more years that everything will solidify.
West said that she needs to learn more about the scoring formula for the latest report card before she decides whether or not she will recommend a vote of no confidence.
The 2016-2017 grade report placed the Winfiled City School system’s overall letter grade at 90, or an A, while the latest report placed them at a score of 88, or a B.
Both Winfield City High School and and Winfield Elementary School scored A’s on this year’s report cards, both scoring a 90.
WCHS was able to improve five total points over last year’s score (85 B). The elementary school sustained the same score as the previous year (90 A).
The Winfield Middle School dropped a letter grade in the 2017-2018 state report card (79-C). It suffered an eight-point decrease in overall score from the 2016-2017 report card (87 B).
Systemwide, decreases in the middle school’s score offset improvements at the high school, and pulled the overall system’s score down by two points.
Winfield Superintendent of Education Chris Cook said that the Winfield Board of Education was anticipating the grade drop even before results were posted.

Cook explained that an eight-point drop in score at Winfield Middle School was the substantial factor in the system’s “B” grade this year. He said this was largely due to lower scores in reading at the school.
“Everyone’s disappointed and we have already addressed how were going to make changes to return our academic achievement to wear needs to be,” Cook said.

The superintendent said that as a former seventh-grade English teacher, he knows the challenges and importance of implementing reading education in middle school.
He says that over the last year there was a lack of balance in academic focus, but says that plans are already in place to implement reading education across grade levels and subject areas.
Winfield High School’s five-point increase in grade earned high-praise by Cook, saying that the school saw impressive gains in reading scores.
“Our teachers did a really great job focusing on improving reading performance,” Cook said. “I’m really pleased the outcome.”
While Cook said he is not a proponent of the current state report card program, he says that he understands why it is being used.
“There is so much more going on at our schools than a letter grade,” the superintendent said. “However, this is what is being used and this is what people see when they look at our schools.”
Cook said that he would not be recommending that the board of education take a vote of “no confidence” for this year’s letter grade.
The superintendent expects that the Winfield system’s letter grades will more accurately reflect how its schools are actually performing once Alabama implements the new Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) assessment testing in 2020.

The DRC will provide information from Kindergarten through high school about what students have learned and allow teachers to take action based on that information.

 


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