Both county school systems brought home good grades in the Alabama State Department of Education’s report card sweepstakes. Blount County Schools scored a B with an overall grade of 83, and Oneonta City Schools scored an A with an overall grade of 91.
To put those grades in context, out of 137 public school districts statewide, there were 12 As, 52 Bs, 54 Cs, and 19 Ds. No school system scored an F, although there were 104 individual schools – out of 1,247 statewide – that did.
Here’s how city and county systems in counties contiguous to Blount fared. County systems: Marshall – C (79); Etowah – B (81); St. Clair – B (84); Jefferson – C (77); Walker – C (79); Cullman (County) – B (80).
City systems: Arab – A (92); Guntersville – B (84); Gadsden – C (73); Pell City – B (81); Birmingham – D (66); Jasper – B (84); Cullman (City) – A (92).
Individual school scores in both Blount County systems are given in the chart at right.
Components of score
The overall letter grade is made up of five components, called “accountability indicators,” calculated by a complex formula to yield the final numerical grade, which is then translated to the familiar letter grade used on student report cards.
The five indicators are: (1) academic achievement, based on student performance on the 2017 ACT Aspire test (20 percent of overall report card grade); (2) academic growth, based on student improvement on reading and math scores on the ACT test from one year to the next (30 percent of overall grade); (3) graduation rate (30 percent of overall grade); (4) college and career readiness, based on percentage of students earning a benchmark score on any one of seven different college and career readiness indicators (10 percent of overall grade); and chronic absenteeism, based on the number of students who have missed at least 15 full days of school during the school year (10 percent of the overall grade).
Parents and others can view the full report card online – complete with individual scores on the accountability indicators – for each school district in the state, and for each individual school (with a few exceptions) within districts.
Visit www.alsde.edu/dept/erc/Pages/home.aspx and click on “Education Report Card” in the right-hand column, then follow prompts.
Blount County Schools Superintendent Rodney Green released the following comments, abstracted from two official statements: “When you look at the report card, be careful–if your school scored a C – not to characterize all of your efforts and the quality of your school just based on the letter grade… Remember, the A-F report card does not consider demographics, socio-economics, or system per pupil expenditures… Our students have shown significant improvement in reading and math each of the past four years. Our graduation rate for all schools is at 92 percent, which is an all-time high for our school district.
“Our schools are safe, clean, nurturing environments structured for the success of all students… (with) opportunities… to excel…in leadership organizations, music and band, athletics, clubs and competitions in career tech. Based on growth in college and career tech indicators, our students are more prepared to enter college or the workforce than ever before.
“…We are moving forward in academic initiatives in early literacy, math, pre-K opportunities, STEAM labs and programs, science, leadership, and student advocacy programs. Together, we will continue to identify ways we can provide our students with the best educational experiences possible.”
Oneonta City Schools Superintendent Daniel Smith commented on how the system will focus attention on the accountability indicators covered by the report card.
“Our focus will always be based on the core curriculum, with emphasis on math and reading. The state report card reflects that (the Oneonta system) is at 98.6 percent in the area of academic growth. However, in the area of academic achievement, there is room for improvement. Academic achievement will be a focus for our schools as we go forward. We will address this area with planning and strategies to meet individual student growth and achievement. We will continue to follow a curriculum that is based on rigor, relevance, and high expectations for student success.”
Responding to the question of how parents should think about the report card, Smith added: “The report card is only a snapshot of the school and school system. It is based on one assessment (the ACT Aspire test) that will no longer be used for future scores or grades. As new guidelines for accountability evolve, we will prepare to meet each standard of accountability for our students. This report, although very good, does not reflect all components of the things our schools are doing to educate each student. We are very proud of the job our schools are doing to see that each child has the opportunity to be successful and prepared as they progress from one grade level to the next. Ultimately, we are preparing each student to be college and career ready, and the Oneonta City School System is successful in doing that.”