AL Dept. of Ed. announces failing schools list

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Department of Education held a news conference Tuesday morning to release the long-awaited "failing schools" list under the state's new Alabama Accountability Act.

A total of 78 schools in the state are listed as failing under the education accountability legislation.

Those schools are divided into two lists within the "failing" label.

The failing schools 'Section 4 (3) i' list includes the schools that were previously labeled as persistently low-performing by the State Department of Education on its federal school improvement lists from 2011. 14 schools are included on this section of the list.

The second subsection is the failing schools 'Section 4 (3) iii' list. A total of 72 schools are named on this list. According to the Alabama State Department of Education, this list was compiled by naming the schools that do not serve a special population of students that were listed three or more times during the last six years in the lowest six percent of public K-12 schools on the state standardized assessment in reading and math starting in June 2007. This list also includes schools that have earned at least three grades of "D" or "F" during the most recent four years on the school grading system developed pursuant to Section 16-6C-2, Code of Alabama 1975.

[DOCUMENT: See the 'Section 4 (3) iii' list (.pdf)]

The Alabama State Department of Education also released a sheet explaining how the "failing" schools are defined by the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013.

Alabama State Superintendent, Dr. Tommy Bice, took several minutes before the release of the lists to explain some subsets of the AAA and what these lists now mean to the future of education in Alabama.

"As of today, we are where we are," said Bice. "We will work aggressively on those schools that are on a negative or little trajectory, and we'll look at those schools that are improving and listed as high achievers to really see the good they've done."

The 'Section 4 (3) iii' list provides the specific percentage of students listed at levels 3 and 4, or as "failing" for each school. Bice said while he wished schools that have shown consistent improvement such as Barbour County Junior High School and both schools listed from Macon County, could be removed from this list, the ALSDE was unable to do so because of the parameters of the AAA legislation.

"What I hope we can do [as a result of this list] is engage more parents to see what they want to do to improve these schools," said Bice. "And I want to see what we can learn from these schools with what they've done [to improve]."

Now that the list has been officially released, Bice hopes they can move from talking about the law, to implementing the law.

Bice explained that this new law will allow students to change schools and districts and will provide funding/scholarships to do so, even if they chose to move to a private educational institution.

Schools named on the failing list have until Aug. 1, 2013 to notify parents of students enrolled that they have been listed as failing. Bice asks that parents who receive those letters and would choose to move their student to a non-failing school, please notify both schools on or before Aug. 1 to make the transition as seamless as possible.

"We have absolutely no way of knowing how many students will transfer," said Bice. And they won't know until closer to that Aug. 1 deadline.

Bice added that not all schools will be required to accept transfer students. Some of this has to do with space and availability in those schools. Other schools have a previously existing policy about student transfers that will still be in affect. Bice added that some of the schools on the list still fall under the Lee vs. Macon Desegregation Order that can alter what students may and may not transfer.

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