It's report card time for school systems

By Staff
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
When it comes to standardized testing, little things mean a lot.
Two Hartselle City Schools, Barkley Bridge Elementary and Crestline Elementary, cleared all average yearly progress goals as set by the State Department of Education. The others, F.E. Burleson Elementary, Hartselle Junior High School and Hartselle High School, fell short of their goals but only by one or two categories each.
Using federal No Child Left Behind legislation, state schools are rated on a variety of factors, including attendance and test scores. Each category is broken down into subgroups, including special education students, black, Hispanic and white students and those receiving free or reduced lunches. Failure to improve on last year's scores in any category can land a school on the list of those needing improvement.
That can be frustrating for school officials. It can also mean an inaccurate report of a school's true performance, according to HJHS Principal Don Pouncey.
"It's a complicated system. You have all these different subgroups that your scores are based on and any of those subgroups can put you on the needs improvement list," Pouncey said. "The intent of the law (No Child Left Behind) is good, but it also makes it very difficult to get a true picture of how a school is doing."
HJHS met its proficiency goals in every category except reading and math for special education students. That presents another challenge, according to Pouncey.
"Every group of kids is different. One year, you may have a group of kids in special education that are just not capable of doing proficient work to the standards of the law," he said. "It's a real work in progress."
Special education scores were also challenging for F.E. Burleson. Burleson failed to meet proficiency goals for special education students in math. It also failed to post improving math grades for students receiving free or reduced lunches.
It wasn't test scores that caused a stumble at Hartselle High School but the drop out rate. The school posted a drop out rate of 15.55 percent, up from the previous year's score of 11.73. Drop out rate is figured on the number of students who start at a school but fail to finish their four years. HHS met all its standardized testing goals, including exceeding the state average for graduation exams.
County results
Nine county schools met average yearly progress goals for the year. Those schools are: Cotaco, Danville-Neel Elementary, Falkville Elementary, Lacey's Spring School, Priceville Elementary, Ryan School, Union Hill School and West Morgan Elementary.
At Brewer High School, all testing goals were met but the drop our rate earned the school a failing mark. The state gave Brewer an "F" for its 26.31 four-year dropout rate. That figure was up from the previous year's figure of 22.16. The state average is 13.05 percent.
Results for special education students tripped up Priceville High School. Priceville special education students failed to show average yearly progress in math and reading.
PHS did post a low drop-out, however. The four-year drop out rate at PHS was down to 2.47 from last year's 5.33.
The drop out rate for the entire Morgan County system is 22.16.

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