Dothan school on list of 76 Alabama "failing" schools

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( — This year, there are 76 schools in 27 school districts on the “failing” school list. Last year, there were 75 schools in 29 districts.

Two schools in the Wiregrass were determined as "failing."
Barbour County High School has been on the list for four years.
Honeysuckle Middle School in Dothan is on the list for the second year.

Inside those “failing” schools are 38,420 students, and 92 percent, or 35,342, are black. Only 461 white students and 1,661 Hispanic students attend schools on the list. No Asian or American Indian students attend according to state enrollment records, and only 20 students identify as multi-racial.

State law, passed in 2013, requires the bottom 6 percent of schools, as measured by the percentage of students who are proficient on the standardized test taken the previous spring, to be labeled as “failing.”

As such, it’s a rank-order list, something acknowledged by Birmingham City Schools, which now has 20 schools on the list, up from 14 last year. Montgomery County has 10 schools on the list, down from 11. Mobile County has 9 and Huntsville City has 3, the same number each had last year. Jefferson County has only one school on the list, down from two last year.

Reviewing the new list of “failing” schools alongside the latest school report cards reveals some big differences. While the AAA “failing” list is based solely on test scores, the report card grade considers other factors like academic growth, the percentage of students missing more than 15 days of school, and measures of college and career readiness among others.

Report card grades for the 76 schools on the AAA “failing” list show the following:
► 14 schools earned C’s
► 46 schools earned D’s
► 16 schools earned F’s

Overall, 39 schools earned F's on the report card, but only 16 of those are labeled "failing" under the AAA.

Each year, the “failing” schools list changes a little. Some schools have bounced on and off the list since 2013, while others made a one-time appearance and never returned.

State law requires no additional funding or resources for the schools. It labels them to allow for a school choice provision in the law to kick in. Critics contend that without additional resources----monetary or otherwise---it will be difficult for the schools to improve.

Students in “failing” schools are required to be notified and given a list of four choices: stay in the school, transfer to a non-failing school within the same school district (transportation must be provided for the district), transfer to a neighboring public school district (if they’ll accept the student), or enroll in a private or homeschool.

To help with the last two options, state law allows parents a credit against their income tax for the cost to move the student along with the cost of tuition, up to 80 percent of what the state pays to educate the student in a public school. Few choose that option, and latest numbers from the Alabama Department of Revenue show only 128 taxpayers took the credit in 2016, for a total of $354,345.

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