By Alton Mitchell
On last week the Alabama Department of Education quietly released a list of 75 schools across the state that are in the failing status. The list revealed the previous year showed LaFayette High School as one of the failing schools, but this year’s list has fell short of carrying the name of LaFayette High School as test scores at the school have improved over the past year.
The list released by the Department of Education shows schools whose 2017 test results in math and reading on the ACT Aspire tests are among the lowest six percent in the state of Alabama. The list did not isolate itself to only high schools, but also included eleven elementary schools across the state.
Chambers County Schools came out well on the list as no schools in the district appeared on the list. Lanett Senior High School part of the Lanett City Schools did appear on the list this year. The hardest hit district in the state was the Birmingham City School Systems which had fourteen schools appear on the list.
Montgomery Schools fell in second with eleven schools appearing on the list this year.
The removal of LaFayette High School from the list of 75 failing schools has been seen as a significant accomplishment. LaFayette High had been on the list for the previous four years. In addition, to the removal of LaFayette High School, the lack of any Chambers County School on the list speaks highly of the actions of administrators, faculty, parents, an of course students. A partnership between all bodies has helped to push Chambers County scores up this year.
Many of the schools appearing on the list were seen in communities or neighborhoods which were deemed as poverty-stricken areas. Urban areas such as Birmingham, Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa saw a large part of the list. However, poverty stricken rural communities such as Wilcox County, Macon County, and Selma City schools also made up the list. No one area of the state seemed to isolate a higher context of the failing schools.
In an email the day after the list was released Chambers County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kelli Hodge demonstrated how far Chambers County Schools have come. Dr. Hodge looked at the history of the failing schools list which was created in 2013 after a law was passed to create the failing schools list. Chambers County Schools have encountered a roller coaster ride on the failing schools list.
According to Dr. Hodge the first year the list was compiled Chambers County had two schools appear on the list. The following year that number had risen to three schools. Chambers County Schools put in significant changes to include administration, instruction, and expectations of school the changes began to become evident. The following year in 2015, Chambers County was down to only two schools on the list and in 2016 only one school appeared on the list.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it does require hard work and determination to see it through. The principals, teachers, and staff have worked their tails off can attest to that. I am so proud of the progress, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” explained Dr. Hodge in her email. The removal of LaFayette High School is seen as a significant accomplishment and as news continues to arise about improvements to curriculum across that County begins to surface it shows that Chambers County Schools are putting the list of failing schools in their rearview mirror and moving forward.