Senate Bill 71, sponsored by Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston), proposes changing lots of the pieces of the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA), including how a “failing” school will be defined.
Here is what the proposed definition looks like. (Slashes indicate the words that are being removed, and underlined portions indicate the new wording.)
(5) FAILING SCHOOL. A public K-12 school that is one or more of the following:
- Is labeled as persistently low-performing by the State Department of Education, in the then most recent United States Department of Education School Improvement Grant application.
b.a. Is designated as a failing school by the State Superintendent of Education.
c.b. Does not exclusively serve a special population of students and, until June 1, 2017, has been listed three two or more times during the then-most recent six four years in the lowest six 10 percent of public K-12 schools on the state standardized assessment in reading and math or, on or after.
- Beginning June 1, 2017, a failing school shall mean a school that has, during the then-most recent three years, earned at least one grade of “F” or, during the then-most recent four years, earned at least three grades of “D” on the school grading system developed pursuant to Section 18 16-6C-2. In the event sufficient rules required to implement the If the “A” through “F” grading system provided for by Section 16-6C-2 have has not been implemented pursuant to the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act in time to provide a sufficient record to implement this subdivision by the State Department of Education before June 1, 2017, then a failing school shall be mean a school that has been listed in the lowest 10 percent of public K-12 elementary, middle, or high schools in the state standardized assessment in reading and math.
A spokesperson for the Alabama State Department of Education said they have just received the bill and are reviewing it now.
So what does this mean for schools already on the list?
By removing the schools that were labeled as persistently low-performing for federal School Improvement Grant purposes, almost all of these schools would no longer be on the “failing” schools list.
S.R. Butler (Huntsville), Central (Tuscaloosa City) and Bullock County high schools, along with Westlawn Middle in Huntsville, are on both lists (here’s the second list), though, and could still remain labeled as “failing” schools…unless the new definitions in sections 1b or 2 above released them from that label.
Broadening the definition to include the bottom 10 percent (as opposed to the bottom six percent), clearly widens the pool of schools that could be considered “failing”, even with the parameter being narrowed to “two of the last four years” instead of the current definition of “three of the last six”.
There are other changes that are proposed, and those will be examined in the near future.