School systems respond to state issued report cards

Published 10:28 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

Representatives from both the Selma City and Dallas County school systems have responded to a recent report released from the Alabama State Department of Education.

Last week, the ALSDE released report cards for schools and school systems statewide. Selma City Schools was given a D, while Dallas County Schools was given a C.

In addition, both school systems had three individual schools with a grade of F. Only one Selma school received a C (Meadowview), while three Dallas County schools received C’s (Valley Grande, Martin, J.E. Terry). No school in either system received a grade of B or higher.

The criterion for the report card is different than the measurements used for the failing schools list released by the ALSDE.

Three-years’ worth of academic achievement, growth, graduation rate, college/career readiness and chronic tardiness were all used to judge the grades for the school report cards. However, elementary schools’ grades were based 90 percent off of students’ scores in reading and math.

Despite the grades, Selma City Schools Superintendent Dr. Avis Williams is confident progress will be made on both the school system level and school level. Entering her first year of her tenure, she has a plan to curb the poor grades.

According to Williams, it is important to have a good transition team to help everyone focus on the main objective. In order to improve Selma City Schools, Williams wishes to study four things: teaching and learning; culture, climate and commitment; leadership, management and governance; and facilities and technology.

Both Williams and Hattie Shelton, superintendent of Dallas County Schools, know that the report cards are not the fault of the kids, but the fault of multiple factors.

“We have a lot of work to do for our students,” Williams said. “We have been meeting since last fall to analyze data. We have quality students who deserve a quality education. The easy part for me with this job is trying to find avenues to help them succeed beyond High School.”

Shelton said the scores were not a tremendous shock because they began calculating the grading criteria as it grew closer and closer, giving them an idea of Dallas County’s school system grade before the report was actually released.

In doing so, Shelton and Dallas County were able to begin implementing new methods into their schools. This focused on the professional development of teachers in science, reading and math.

“We are not broadsided by this. We are aware of the situation and have been working on some changes,” Shelton said. “We are constantly looking at data to find ways to improve our schools.”

The report card grades come in the wake of the failing schools list released by the ALSDE two weeks ago. This report, giving schools a “failing” title if falling into the bottom six percent of the state’s math and reading scores, had five Selma and Dallas County schools on the list. Two came from Selma and three came from Dallas County.