Four local schools labeled ‘failing’

Published 9:08 pm Monday, January 16, 2017

Two Selma City schools and two Dallas County schools made the Alabama State Department of Education’s “failing” schools list for the 2015-2016 school year.

Those schools were Selma High School, R.B. Hudson Middle School, Keith Middle-High School and Southside High School.

Failing schools are deemed as schools that fall in the bottom 6 percent of the state in reading and math, which is determined by the standardized reading and math portions of the ACT Aspire test.

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Students in third-eighth grade and tenth graders take the test each year.

“I was very disappointed,” said Dallas County Superintendent Hattie Shelton. “After we looked at our data, we realized that our schools are much lower than what we expected them to be, so therefore we had already started planning and putting an action plan in place to address that.”

Dallas County did have some good news, as Bruce K. Craig came off the list from the previous year.

Shelton said this was the first time that Southside and Keith had been on the failing schools list.

“Our board will support us, and we’ll do everything that we can to ensure that our schools are not on that list again. That’s our goal, to have none on that list,” Shelton said.

Shelton said she called her principals together to discuss the test scores and to talk about what can be done to get the two schools off the failing list.

“We’re monitoring and providing support for our principals and our teachers as much as possible and providing training to ensure that the instruction is strong,” Shelton said.

Selma City Schools Superintendent Angela Mangum addressed the failing schools at a recent community challenge event, telling the parents she knows the status of the two schools on the list, but she and her staff are hoping with the help of the community and parents, they can turn the numbers around.

“It takes all of us working together, that’s why I asked for additional volunteers to help with the children,” Mangum said. “It took us more than one year to get those schools in the position that they’re in, and it’s going to take more than one year to get them out of this identification.”

Mangum said Selma High struggled to find a certified 10th grade geometry teacher, and the standardized test they were required to take was in 10th grade math and English.

“It was the 10th grade math that was the culprit in this situation,” Mangum said. “Specifically with the case of Selma High School, it was an extenuating circumstance beyond our control.”

Mangum said R.B. Hudson is implementing intervention programs called Math 180 and Read 180 to help students overcome learning deficiencies.

“We have intervention programs in the school now that are making a difference in student achievement and students are progressing, they’re getting additional doses of instruction, and I truly believe that we’ll see some improvement in our test scores in reading and in math,” Mangum said. “Teachers are working hard, administrators are working hard, the best we possibly can to address the challenges that we’re facing, but, unfortunately, a lot of our students are behind, and it takes more than a year for them to catch up.”

Sophia P. Kingston was removed from the list, and Mangum said she is hoping the other two follow suit.