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No Chilton County schools listed as ‘failing’ on state list

Published 3:50pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

No Chilton County schools were included on a list of 72 “failing” schools released by the Alabama Department of Education on Tuesday morning.

State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice discussed the list during a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday, going over criteria set forth in the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 under which 72 state schools are classified as “failing.”

“As of today, we are where we are,” Bice said. “We will work aggressively on the schools that have shown a negative trajectory or have remained with no change over the last several years. We will support, obviously, those schools that are showing a positive trajectory because we want to enhance that positive move.”

The list provided relief for Chilton County administrators, teachers and parents concerned that one or more local schools could be on ALSDE’s final list.

“We’re good to go,” Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden said Tuesday.

Three county schools—Maplesville High School, Jemison High School and Thorsby High School—were included on at least one unofficial list of potentially “failing” schools that circulated in March, but neither local nor state education officials could determine who compiled the lists and what data was used to qualify the schools on the unofficial lists as failing.

The failing schools list released by ALSDE on Tuesday, which can be found here, did not indicate the path some schools have taken in the last few years regarding improvement or lack thereof.

“Regulations can’t trump law,” Bice said of his inability to remove schools from the list that have demonstrated vast improvement. “The list has to be the list. It’s important to look beyond the name of the school to what the trajectory actually looks like.”

Passed in the last legislative session, the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 defines a failing school as one that has been labeled as low-performing in the state’s most recent federal school improvement grant application or has been in the bottom 6 percent of state standardized reading and math assessments for three or more times in the last six years.

Under the law, parents of children in “failing” schools are eligible for a state income tax credit if they decide to transfer their child to a non-failing public, private or parochial school.

“This new law expands the school choice options to non-public schools and provides tax credits to parents,” Bice said.

Tax credits are estimated to allot about $3,500 per year per child to help parents pay for tuition at a private school or a non-failing public school.

Bice said there is no way to know how many students will transfer schools until the new school year starts on Aug. 19.

“The best news (based on this criteria) is that our children are progressing at acceptable levels thanks to the hard work and dedication of our local teachers, principles, administrators and the [Chilton County Board of Education],” state Rep. Kurt Wallace said in a Facebook post. “I want to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to all of them, and I encourage all of you to do the same.”

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