Piedmont’s and Jacksonville’s public schools landed in the top 25 statewide for their performance on Alabama’s new standardized tests.
The Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program evaluated students in grades two through eight for their skill in English language arts and math, with science testing for grades four, six and eight.
The Piedmont school system took first place in Calhoun County out of five school districts that took the ACAP tests.
The distinction pleased Piedmont Schools Superintendent Mike Hayes, who said Friday he “could not be more proud of how our Bulldog family and community” worked together under the conditions created by the response to the pandemic.
“Scoring above the state average, in all grade levels,” said Hayes, “is a direct result of the hard work, commitment and determination of our students and staff during the most difficult school year in our lifetime.”
Jacksonville students earned “an overall rank of 23 among the school districts throughout the state,” the city’s public information officer, Ben Nunnally, said.
This was the first year for the ACAP evaluations, but it was also the period immediately following the COVID-19 pandemic; that disruption took hours of classroom time away from students and teachers statewide, Nunnally said.
Jacksonville students also performed well in individual categories — they ranked No. 13 in English language arts, 24 in science, and 43 in mathematics in the state — according to the city’s press release.
Performing especially well were the district’s fourth-graders, who ranked eighth in the state in English language arts and first in the county.
“We started last year just with a very clear vision from Mr. Mike Newell, our superintendent during our beginning of the year in-service,” Cortney Dilgard, Jacksonville city schools director of curriculum, said. “We really led with a very detailed plan of how we were going to approach the year and how we were going to be offering virtual instruction to our students.”
Dilgard said the district’s pupils were fortunate enough to be able to remain in the classrooms for the majority of the school year despite the pandemic, with the classrooms being open to all students who wanted face-to-face learning.
Dilgard attributed the success of their students to many factors, including the hiring a new instructional coach and implementing new intervention programs for students who might be falling behind.
“We went ahead and trained the entire faculty at both schools on that program,” Dilgard said. “We also had the Alabama Technology in Motion representative come in and do professional development with our staff on how to lead engaging virtual live sessions.”
Dilgard said she would like to thank all of the students for all of their hard work “learning under very unusual conditions,” as well as the parents for their support.
She also said she would just like to thank Jacksonville administrators and teachers for their dedication and flexibility for the last school year.
Tom Spencer, with the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, said the results of testing in many Alabama jurisdictions tell a familiar and alarming story.
After a year and a half of COVID-clouded schooling, only about half of Alabama students in grades 3-8 scored as “proficient” in reading and less than a quarter reached the proficient level in math on the ACAP tests.
If the Alabama Literacy Act were in full effect this year, Spencer said, and the reading cut score was set at the level recommended by experts, 23 percent of third-graders taking the test, or almost 12,000 students statewide, would be in jeopardy of being held back, based on the results.
PARCA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to inform and improve state and local government in Alabama through independent, objective and non-partisan research.
BY THE NUMBERS
Statewide Calhoun County rankings by school system: 143 schools were tested for English language arts and math, and 142 schools were tested for science.
Piedmont City Schools: 15th
Jacksonville City Schools: 23rd
Oxford City Schools: 33rd
Calhoun County Schools: 51st
Anniston City Schools: 140th
PIEDMONT CITY SCHOOLS
Piedmont ranked 15th overall in the state out of 143 schools tested. In English Language Arts Piedmont ranked 17th in the state, in math Piedmont ranked a lofty 10th statewide and in science the school ranked 48th statewide.
JACKSONVILLE CITY SCHOOLS
Jacksonville ranked 23th overall in the state out of 143 schools tested. In English language arts, Jacksonville ranked 13th out of 143 schools tested, in math the Golden Eagles scored a 43 ranking statewide and in science the school ranked 24th.
OXFORD CITY SCHOOLS
Oxford ranked 33rd in the state overall out of 143 schools tested. In English language arts, Oxford ranked 34 out of 143 schools tested. The Yellow Jackets scored 40th overall in math and came in 39th place in science.
CALHOUN COUNTY SCHOOLS
The Calhoun County school system ranked 51st in the state out of 143 schools tested. In English language arts the school system came in 42nd place and in math the system scored a 72 ranking. In science the school system scored 47th in the state.
ANNISTON CITY SCHOOLS
The Anniston city school system ranked 140 out of 143 schools tested. In English language arts the school system came in 142 place and in math the school system came in 129th place. In science the school system ranked 128th place out of 142 schools tested.