State identifies 18 Birmingham City Schools as failing

State identifies 18 Birmingham City Schools as failing

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - It's not a list schools want to be on.

Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Education named the failing schools in Alabama. It's a part of Alabama's Accountability Act, an approach to education reform.

Birmingham City Schools had 18 on the list including Woodlawn, Jackson Olin, Parker and Carver High Schools.

"Frankly, I was very surprised by the high number," said Wardine Alexander, Birmingham School Board President.

The scores are based on two tests. The Alternative Assessment and the ACT Aspire test scores which measure reading and math. The tests are given in grades three through eight and then again in 10th grade.

This is a change from last year's guidelines. Before the state measured a school district's success on data from three out of the last six years. An amendment passed last spring changed things and now the state is just focusing on last year's scores.

"For our parents, we are deeply concerned and we're going to take all the measures that we can turn the needle on this achievement for our students," Alexander continued.

Alexander says the district is working to implement new education initiatives to address the achievement gap. While Birmingham is working through their challenges Jefferson County Schools are celebrating. There are no Jefferson County Schools on the state's failing list.

Dr. Craig Pouncey said he's humbled by the district's success , but said there are some flaws in the system. He said each school district has its own set of challenges.

"Regardless of if all 1500 schools in the state of Alabama achieve an academic rate that's higher than any state around here we would still have six percent of our schools would still be on that list because that's the way the our legislature designed it and that's not fair," Pouncey said.

Students at schools on the state's failing  list are allowed to transfer to non-failing public or private schools with their families being eligible for a tax
credit to help pay for tuition.

"People want their schools to be successful. They want to go to school in their community. We created this great mechanism for relief to remove kids from their local communities as a solution to improve education is a fallacy," continued Pouncey

Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelley Castlin-Gacutan said the district is already working on initiatives like, Learning-Focused Schools, Response to Intervention and School Turnaround.

The district also has three schools make a turnaround and are no longer identified as failing this year.

Jefferson County had one school to come off that list.

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