DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - Dothan City School leaders say despite receiving a C on the state report card prototype, they are very proud of the school system's accomplishments.
Interim School Superintendent Todd Weeks held a press conference Monday to discuss the recently released grade. Dothan City Schools earned a 79. "We were one point away from a B, but we will never be satisfied with even a B," said Weeks.
The report card includes
- Academic Achievement
- Academic Growth
- Graduation Rates
- College and Career Ready Data
- Chronic Absenteeism
- Student Engagement
The system has schools that did exceptionally well and others that scored lower on the report card. Montana Street Magnet School received a perfect score of 100 overall. Honeysuckle Middle School received an F.
Where the school system did well, Academic Growth. The school system earned an 84.92 as the overall score. This is determined based on individual students who demonstrate improvement in reading and math from one year to the next. "As an old principal and teacher, it was important to me that our students grow from day 1," said Weeks.
The two low scoring portions of the report card - College and Career Readiness and Chronic Absenteeism. The system scored a 59 as an overall score for College and Career Readiness and 14.51 for Chronic Absenteeism.
Weeks said the two areas are the system's immediate focus, "Let's get the principals in. Let's start focusing and bringing attention to our weaknesses and the things we need to address. That process has already started and I'm sure it will continue with the new superintendent."
Weeks also expressed concerns about the ACT Aspire Test used as part of the calculations, "Quality schools mean more than just a test score on an assessment that has already been proven to not be suited for this state."
Dionne Blair, principal at Selma Street Elementary School, agrees the assessment is a mere snapshot and may not reflect the work that goes on in the school, "1 test, ACT Aspire, that they took on that one day that is a part of the formula that may have put schools in a light of, 'That's not really who we are."
Selma Street Elementary scored an overall grade of C. Blair says the school may not have met the mark on the Academic Achievement portion, but students are making gains, "As far as learning gains, we did very well and we're very pleased. That speaks to the hard work that comes from the faculty every day. The countless hours spent on last year spent around having conversations about student data," said Blair.
Weeks says if he had to grade the school system, he'd give Dothan City Schools an A – noting how hard teachers in each school work daily to help students make gains.
He also says there is a lot the school system does well the report card doesn't highlight, "No one ever talks about student safety. They never talk about the special education. They never talk about the mental health component and the things we try to work on with children. We don't get complimented or graded on nursing services. I may have mentioned transportation. There are so many things that are not on this report card that teachers and staff do every day that no one is able to pick up a report card and go, Great job'," said Weeks.
He also emphasized the report card is a prototype and is subject to change, "Our state department will continue to look at this report card and tweak it to make sure we're getting a quality picture of and quality snapshot of what our schools are doing," said Weeks.
WSFA 12 News did reach out to Honeysuckle Middle School to get a statement about the school's scores but have not received a comment.
Dothan City Schools is in the process of transitioning leadership. Dr. Phyllis Edwards will take over as the new superintendent. She has not commented on the new scores.