Wiregrass school weighs in on district report card

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OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) - The State Department of Education just released report card grades for more than 150 school systems in Alabama.

Superintendent Dr. Rick McInturf of Ozark City Schools is pleased with his district’s overall grade of 78%.

“We've bounced between the 48th and 52nd percentile, which is right in the middle of the heap. This would indicate that we're still in the middle of the heap, which is okay,” said McInturf.

Carroll High School ranked 79%, just one point short of a "B.” McInturf believes the school system would have ranked a "B" average if it weren't for some factors that played a big role in this year’s report card.

One of them being:

"ACT Aspire, it was built as a preparation document for the ACT but it's basically an achievement test and we've learned the questions on it aren’t aligned with the Alabama curriculum."

The State Board of Eduaction did away with ACT Aspire last year. McInturf says the report card is based about 90% off that one test.

Another reason, poverty. Those school systems with high poverty rates are being graded on the same criteria as schools with little to no poverty rate. About 60% of Ozark City School’s student body is at or below the poverty level.

McInturf says the third reason boils down to program review and local indicator. This means, the school district identifies which programs each school needs and they create an assessment around it.

For example, Harry N Mixon Intermediate School’s local indicator was on civics. They create an assessment centered on that topic, something they’ve worked hard on over the past two years. But, McInturf found out a couple weeks ago, that too would not be included on the report card.

"All that preparation and all that work, not that it wasn't good work, it's just not going to be reflected on the local grade card anymore."
The final reason is chronic absenteeism.

"If a student misses 15 or more days for any reason, the concept of excused and unexcused absences kind of goes out the window,” McInturf added. “If you are not in school for any reason, it would count you in the chronic absenteeism log. And when you get to 15, the school begins losing points in the accountability model for the percentage of kids who are chronically absent."

Even if a child is sick or getting surgery, all absences fall under the same category.

"We’re kind of okay with that and looking for ways to improve a point here and a point there that would have knocked our schools into a “B” classification, so we're kind of okay with that!

You can visit the Alabama Department of Education’s website to see how your school ranked: http://ap.alsde.edu/accountability/educationreportcard/selectschool