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Test scores land city school system in top 10

By Staff
No Child Left Behind rules mean Hartselle still fails to meet goal
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Three Hartselle schools received perfect scores in new academic indicators released last week. The scores were enough to earn the system an overall 76.19, the eighth highest score in the state.
Under normal circumstances, those results would be nothing but good news for Hartselle school officials. But, under the new No Child Left Behind Act, the less-than-perfect scores at two other schools means the system gets placed on a list of those needing improvement.
Hartselle's system is not alone.
Hartselle's system is among the 900 statewide that failed to achieve 100 percent on all its NCLB goals.
Only 319 schools statewide achieved all goals, which vary from system-to-system based in student population and diversity.
Earning perfect scores were Barkley Bridge Elementary, Crestline Elementary and Hartselle High, each with 100. The scores mean the schools met all their goals on reading and math tests, graduation exam scores, test participation and drop out rates.
The goals are set on a state-wide basis.
NCLB judges systems on test scores but also looks at the percentage of the student body taking those tests. Test results are divided up by subgroups, including whites, blacks, special education students and students receiving free or reduced lunches.
A low mark in any subgroup's scores puts the school and the entire system on the list of those failing to make what the federal government calls "adequate yearly progress."
The problem with results at the lower-scoring schools, F.E. Burleson and Hartselle Junior High School, comes not as much from the test scores as the number of students taking the standardized tests.
Burleson was cited for not having enough white students taking the reading or mathematics test.
The school reported 94 percent participation, just 1 percent under the state goal of 95 percent.
HJHS was also cited for inadequate test participation. It reported 92 percent of students receiving reduced or free lunches took the required standardized reading and math tests.
The system as a whole was cited for below-goal participation in the reading tests for black students and reading and math tests for free or reduced lunch students. Reading and mathematics scores for special education students system-wide also fell below state goals.
In the past, Alabama students were judged on their test scores as compared to national ones. Under NCLB, testing is done by state standards, with Alabama students being tested in reading and mathematics in grades four, six and eight. High school students are judged by scores on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. Reading and mathematics scores for grades three, five and seven will be added in next year.
NCLB requires schools to show annual improvements within the overall population and the student subgroups. Failure to do so placed the school and the system on the failure to achieve adequate yearly progress list. If a system is on that list for two consecutive years, it faces increased oversight and eventual reduction of federal funds.
This is the first year Alabama's scores have been reported using the NCLB standard.