By Jody Stewart
Last week the State of Alabama released its list of failing schools and LaFayette High School and J.P. Powell Middle School were both on the list. The two schools were found to be in the bottom six percent of schools in the state based on proficiency in reading and math test.
Both LaFayette High School and J.P. Middle School are no strangers to this list. This is J.P. Powell’s 2nd year being on the list and LaFayette High was on the list back in 2017.
Students in grades third thru eighth are tested in reading and math with the Scranton Assessment, while students in eleventh grade are tested in English and Math with the ACT. Students third thru Eighth grade and tenth are all given the Alabama Alternate Assessment test.
There is controversy about this list. Being labeled a failing school puts a stigma on the county, city, teachers, and students of these labeled schools. Chambers County School Superintendent Kelli Hodge said the failing schools list and the school report cards measure different aspects of academic achievement. She said the failing schools list looks at students who are proficient in both reading and math but if one doesn’t perform as proficient in both that child doesn’t get counted to the positive side of the assessment.
The school report cards, which were also released by the state showed that neither school received an “F” for failing, instead both mentioned schools received a D on the state report card. Hodge said that neither of those scores were acceptable, and needed to be improved.
Hodge said this past year it would matter if the schools received a B because if they are in that bottom 6 percent they are considered failing. Hodge says she feels the report cards give a more realistic look at the academic achievement.
Hodge reported that based on the graduation rate reported on the state report cards that the graduation rate at LaFayette High School has risen from 70 percent in 2017 to 88 percent in 2019. According to The State Department of Education the State’s overall average graduation rate in 2018 was 90 percent.