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Demopolis City Schools earn B on first report card

The Alabama Department of Education released report cards Feb. 1 for school systems across the state, including those in Marengo County. The report card system is designed to show how individual systems and schools are performing.

The Demopolis City School System earned an overall B grade. Demopolis High School, Demopolis Middle School, and U.S. Jones  each earned a grade of C. Westside Elementary does not receive a grade.

The Linden School System received a grade of C and Marengo County earned a B.

The grades are based on several factors, including academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, college and career readiness, and chronic absenteeism. Among the goals for issuing school report cards was to provide parents, teachers and communities  with a grading system that is easy to understand.

However, many school officials across the state have said the measuring tools being used for the grades are not adequate.

“Based on the formula, the majority of the assigned letter grade is based on academic achievement and academic growth (50 perent in schools with a grade 12 and 90 percent in schools without a grade 12). In normal situations, one can see where this would make sense; however, the past four years of high-stakes assessments in Alabama have been anything but a ‘normal situation.’ In 2013, Alabama moved away from the Alabama Reading and Math Test for grades 3-8 and adopted the ACT Aspire for grades 3-8 to be used as the ‘state assessment.’ The thought process in 2013 was to use a more rigorous test that aligns with the ACT, which is used as a college entrance instrument throughout our state and nation. Unfortunately, four years later we now know that the ACT Aspire is not the best choice of assessment for the students of Alabama,” Demopolis Superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said in a written statement.

While school officials may be questioning the tools used to determine school grades, Kallhoff said Demopolis will continue working to improve in all areas of student growth.

“Obviously we are not satisfied with this grade and refuse to fall victim to complacency. Hopefully, in future releases of state report cards a better formula will be used that considers the robust make-up of our schools; beginning with a better assessment that is not flawed and aligned to the standards we are mandated to teach. Measuring the effectiveness of schools should include more than one score. There are numerous factors that take place in schools daily that are difficult to quantify, including community service projects, peer support, involvement in extra-curricular activities, random acts of kindness, student leadership, creativity, collaboration, etc.,” Kallhoff said.

The superintendent’s full written statement will be published on the Opinion Page of the Feb. 14 edition of the Demopolis Times.

Report cards for each school system and school can be viewed online at http://54.201.18.221/apps/report-data/pages/SelectSchool.

(This article originally appeared in the Saturday, February 10 issue of the Demopolis Times.)