By Alan Collins
HOOVER, AL (WBRC) - More Alabama schools are failing to meet the standards set by the federal law, No Child Left Behind. The law seeks to improve education in the country.
Jefferson County has the second largest school system in Alabama.
Last year, 8 schools failed to meet the Adequate Yearly Progress. This year that number jumped to 22. "Obviously we are disappointed al of our schools did not make 100% AYP." Phil Hammonds, Jefferson Co. Superintendent said.
The biggest reason for the drop off was a drop in special education reading scores.
Hoover's school system scored a perfect 100% last year. But this year, thanks to an increase in special education students, Hoover Higher School and the Hoover Freshman Center failed to meet it's AYP.
"Really preliminary assessment of our data. It's something to focus on system wide in our upcoming improvement plans," Andy Craig, Hoover Superintendent said.
State School Superintendent Joe Morton says special education remains a problem. "There are 82,000 students in special education services. They are there for a reason. They have some learning disability that cause them to receive special services." Morton said.
The superintendents are committed to developing plans to improve those reading scores. But some fear the students may suffer if it's just test scores become a prime consideration. "I want to know we did the best thing for these kids. It may come out as a win in the column in No Child Left Behind." Rod Dodson, Assist. Hoover Superintendent of Curriculum said.
While work is set to address the problem, the state is not willing to take special education students out of consideration. "We don't not want to go back to the days they are excluded and put aside in separate classrooms. That is where the problem initially came from," said Marbrey Whetstone, of the Alabama Dept of Education.
The state has to be at 100% in 2014 or face losing federal dollars. "Our challenges are going to be greater as the academic bar is raised. We all support that. We don't want anything but the best," Hammonds said.
"I think the practicality of that goal is debatable, but it's certainly something we will strive for and get better trying," Craig said
Alabama's top educator has his doubts. "That law said every student will be proficient and no educator in America thinks that is going to happen," Morton said.