The local results in the inaugural Alabama Report Card have been released. Here are the grades for the Phenix City, Russell County and Lee County school systems:
On the 100-point scale, Phenix City received a B with 80 points overall. Russell County received a C with 72 points. Lee County received a C with 78 points.
Alabama’s cumulative grade is a C with 79 points.
Alabama’s report card comprises accountability indicators measuring academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism. The data used to produce the report card comes from the past school year, 2016-17 in this case.
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Academic achievement is determined by the number of students whose scores are proficient on the state’s standardized tests, meaning they are at the “Ready” or “Exceeding” levels.
Academic growth is determined by the number of students who improve their reading and math scores from one year to the next. Growth is categorized as low, average or high. One point is received for average growth, 1.5 points for high growth.
Graduation rate is determined by the percentage of students who graduate within four or five years of first entering ninth grade.
College and career readiness is determined by the percentage of students in their four-year cohort (with whom they first entered ninth grade) who meet at least one of the seven college-and-career-ready indicators:
▪ Earning a benchmark score in any section of the ACT college entrance exam.
▪ Earning a 3 or greater on an Advanced Placement test.
▪ Earning a 5 or greater on an International Baccalaureate test.
▪ Earning college credit through a dual enrollment course or other postsecondary course.
▪ Earning an industry credential in a career tech course.
▪ Being accepted into the military.
▪ Achieving the “Silver” or “Gold” level on the ACT WorkKeys exam.
Chronic absenteeism is determined by the percentage of students having 15 or more absences in a given school year. Points are awarded based on the percentage of students who aren’t chronically absent.
The grades and overall points were accumulated this way in the formula crunching the accountability indicators:
▪ Academic achievement – 20 percent of overall score. Phenix City received 59.7 points, Russell County 54.25, Lee County 60.64, Alabama 60.27.
▪ Academic growth – 30 percent of overall score. Phenix City received 88.98 points, Russell County 85.72, Lee County 88.47, Alabama 87.86.
▪ Graduation rate – 30 percent of overall score. Phenix City received 87.8 points, Russell County 74.4, Lee County 83.6, Alabama 87.
▪ College and career readiness – 10 percent of overall score. Phenix City received 66 points, Russell County 51, Lee County 65, Alabama 66 points.
▪ Chronic absenteeism – 10 percent of overall score. Phenix City received 16.51 points, Russell County 18.36, Lee County 19.03, Alabama 17.68.
The Ledger-Enquirer asked the superintendents in Phenix City and Russell and Lee counties for their reaction to their school system’s grade and what in the report card most pleases and most concerns them.
“Phenix City Schools is proud of its student growth and achievement, graduation rates, student activities, and financial prowess,” PCS superintendent Randy Wilkes said in an email Friday to the Ledger-Enquirer. “We are delighted with the tireless efforts, positive attitudes, and unyielding fortitude of both students and staff.”
The most encouraging part of Phenix City’s report card, Wilkes said, “is that of student growth, as some schools received maximum points in the category.”
Wilkes also noted the graduation rate for Phenix City students who receive an Alabama diploma improved from 51 percent in 2010 to 92 percent in 2016.
As for what concerns him most about Phenix City’s report card, Wilkes said, “We must continue our efforts regarding academic achievement, especially in the area of reading.”
Wilkes added, “Phenix City Schools believes that reporting to the public is essential and that the reporting systems should be fair, accurate, and transparent. Phenix City Schools regrets that the report card does not reflect the totality of standards that have been taught, is not derived by comparing student growth to a standard, is formulated on ex post facto changes, and provides insufficient feedback for instructional delivery. The results are neither good nor bad but rather terribly incomplete and imperfect.
“Phenix City Schools is fortunate in that it is in the process of developing a strategic plan of which will align to accreditation, college, career, and life-ready standards. The plan will become both a catalyst for progress and the basis of multi-metric, in-house, public reporting.
“... Phenix City Schools is proud of its progress and will remain steadfast in its continued efforts to grow in every educational aspect.”
Russell County School District superintendent Brenda Coley told the Ledger-Enquirer in an email Friday, “Russell County School District is more than an average school system. It is highly critical that our warriors embrace the A-F report card data with a positive and motivated response. As warriors, we fight to win and I am confident that we will rise to our true potential.”
Asked what pleases her most about RCSD’s report card, Coley said, “On surface, the most pleasing news is that no Russell County schools received the grade of a ‘F.’ Yet a deeper look into the valuable data provides many more opportunities for us to hone in on the gaps that may exist in our curriculum, pace, scope and sequence of the expectations for our students, teachers, principals, and instructional coaches.”
To improve RCSD’s grade, Coley said, “the Russell County School District leadership team has responded to this data in an urgent manner. We have revised the district and school level improvement plans in order to take a more aggressive approach to improving instruction an increasing student achievement. We are ensuring that all schools provide extended learning opportunities to include core intervention, after-school tutoring, and community based remediation programs.”
Coley added, “The report card must be a wake-up call to all stakeholders, including administrators, teachers,
support staff, parents, students and community members. This is not a time for negativity, it is
not a time to point fingers, and we will not accept any excuses.”
Lee County Schools superintendent Mac McCoy said in his email Friday to the Ledger-Enquirer, “We have schools that have performed very well when evaluated using the limited criteria, and we have some schools that have had needed areas for improvement exposed. As a system, we are not proud of a ‘C’ letter grade. However, we are proud of the many things that our faculty and staff do so well for our students.”
McCoy added, “The majority of this letter grade, 90% in fact, for our schools without a grade 12 comes from a single test given to select grade spans that our own State Department of Education has determined did not align with their adopted standards.”
Rest of timeline
This inaugural Alabama Report Card is considered a prototype. Feb. 1-23, the report cards for schools and districts are released, starting the commenting period, when “the public can weigh-in on the design and what information is or should be included in the Alabama State Report Card,” the Alabama State Department of Education said in a news release.
March 8, the Alabama State Board of Education will review the input during its work session, then vote on whether to adopt the report card during its April meeting. If the state board approves, the prototype will be sent to the U.S. Department of Education for final approval.
INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL GRADES
Here are the individual grades for Phenix City, Russell County and Lee County public schools in the inaugural Alabama Report Card, in which the state’s cumulative grade is a C with 79 points, based on data from the 2016-17 school year:
PHENIX CITY -- 80 points, B
Phenix City Elemementary
Phenix City Intermediate
RUSSELL COUNTY -- 72 points, C
Mount Olive Intermediate
Russell County High
Russell County Middle
LEE COUNTY -- 78 points, C
East Smiths Station Elementary
Smiths Station High
Smiths Station Jr. High
South Smiths Station Elementary
West Smiths Station Elementary