TALLADEGA COUNTY -- Officials from Talladega County Schools and the state superintendent’s office clarified Friday the difference between a school receiving a poor grade on its state report card and being deemed a “failing school.”
Stemley Road Elementary School, a part of the county system, received an F on its report card, released Thursday, but Stemley was not on the state’s previously released list of failing schools.
That’s because, state and local school officials noted, the school report cards and list of failing schools are compiled from separate educational laws, based on both federal and state criteria -- and those concerned shouldn’t confuse or group the two.
According to the Alabama Accountability Act, “failing schools” are the bottom 6 percent of public schools for the 2016-17 academic year, based on the state’s standardized assessment (ACT Aspire and Alabama Alternate Assessment) in reading and math.
The Accountability Act allows any student attending a failing school to transfer to a non-failing school in the same district or to a non-failing school outside the district if space is not available in the current district.
None of the schools within The Daily Home’s coverage were listed as failing.
However, Stemley received a low report card grade Wednesday, with an individual score of a 58.0, which translates to a letter grade of F.
The Talladega County school system received an overall grade of B, with a score of 81.
Stemley scored 41.54 on academic achievement and 67.89 in academic growth. According to the state Department of Education’s website, academic achievement represents 40 percent of the report card grade for elementary level schools, and academic growth is 50 percent. The remaining 10 percent is chronic absenteeism.
“This was the first year for the state issued report cards,” Talladega County Schools Deputy Superintendent Vicky Ozment said.
Added Dr. Michael Sibley, communications director for the state superintendent’s office. “We will be continuously observing how we can better assess schools and their systems. We are also welcoming any feedback and suggestions from school systems from now until Feb. 23 to make improvements to next year’s report card.”
The communication director added the state will not punish any of the schools receiving low marks.
“The report card is meant to serve similar to a snapshot and give the public an idea of how the schools and systems are doing,” Sibley said. “We are aware that each school is different.”
Added Ozment, “All of our schools have their each individual set of challenges and strengths. We are working hard to serve each of our schools’ unique needs.”
The deputy superintendent noted one area Stemley plans to address is its absenteeism.
“We had an administrative meeting earlier this week to discuss what we can do to further stress the importance of attendance,” she said.
Stemley had a score of 24.83 in chronic absenteeism, while the system scored 20.63, compared to the state average of 17.68.
Chronic absenteeism, defined as any student missing school for 15 days (excused, unexcused or a combination of both) negatively impacted each school’s ability to earn the maximum number of percentage points in this category.
“Interestingly, the overall attendance rate for Talladega County Schools is over 94 percent, which I consider impressive,” county Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said in a written statement Thursday. “Talladega County Schools has earned a stellar reputation for academic excellence through innovative practice, leadership and technology.”
Ozment, the deputy superintendent, stressed the system is also continuously monitoring individual schools and classrooms to give students the best opportunity possible for a quality education.
Ozment noted Lacey and other system officials are meeting to discuss their submission to the state.
“We do plan to submit our own ideas and critiques after meeting further with teachers and staff for their feedback,” she said. “The system takes pride in our efforts to help students become college and career ready.”
For more information, call the Talladega County Schools Central Office at 256-315-5100.
-- Staff writer Chris Norwood contributed to this story.