Today in Montgomery, Alabama State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice held a press briefing to offer information regarding the Alabama Accountability Act.
Dr. Melinda Maddox, Assistant Superintendent for Research, Information, and Data Services, described the definitions and process, based on ACT 2013-265, for determining the schools on the two lists. She indicated that 72 schools were included on the (iii) option list, 14 schools on the (i) option list, and 78 on the combined list. Dr. Maddox reviewed the following definitions:
A public K-12 school (i) that 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; (ii) that is designated as a failing school by the State Superintendent of Education; or (iii) that does not exclusively serve a special population of students and, has been listed three or more times during the then-most recent six years in the lowest six percent of public K-12 schools on the state standardized assessment in reading and math. (See the links below for specific definitions and explanations.)
Dr. Bice indicated that legally, he cannot remove schools from a list that is defined by law but he also explained that the list actually reflects a continuum of schools from those who have shown a negative achievement trajectory, those who have remained unchanged, those who are showing a positive trajectory of improvement but with room for continued growth, and those with exceptional improvement growth. He provided two specific examples, Martin Luther King in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa, which have both shown a 34% increase in achievement over the past six years, but because the first three years landed them within the lowest 6%, they remain on the list. Dr. Bice also asked the press to release the list with scores attached because without the scores, it is just a list of failing schools. He concluded by stressing that moving forward, the numbers will be the focus for the Alabama State Department as they provide the context to own the low performers and support the high achievers.
The following processes were also discussed by Dr. Bice:
Notification – Failing schools will notify parents prior to August 1.
Option 1- The student will remain or enroll in the designated failing school.
Option 2 - The student will transfer to a comparable school that is not included on the annual list of failing schools with the same local school system that has available space and is willing to accept the student.
Option 3 - The student will transfer to a comparable school that is not included on the annual list of failing schools within another Alabama local school system that has available space and is willing to accept the student. (This option for student transfer may not be utilized if a comparable school that is not included on the list of failing schools within the same local school system has available space and is willing to accept the student.)
Option 4 - The student transfers to a qualifying non-public Alabama school that is willing to accept the student. (Does not include online or home school.)
Transfer - Parents choosing any of the four applicable options for transfer must complete the required Notice of Transfer and submit to the local superintendent by August 1. Additionally, the Notice of Transfer must include verification from the school administrator of the school where the student is transferring.
Transportation - Transportation services for students who transfer from a failing school to another non-failing school within the same system remain the responsibility of the local education agency (LEA). Transportation costs for students who transfer from a failing school to a non-failing school in another LEA or a non-public school become the responsibility of the parent.
Student Assessment - Students who transfer from a failing school to a non-failing public or qualifying non-public school and participate in the tax credit and/or scholarship program must participate in the approved statewide student assessment program or a nationally norm-referenced test that measures comparable content standards in math and language arts for accountability reporting.
Students with Disabilities - Students with disabilities who transfer to another non-failing school within the same district remain eligible for services as outlined in the current Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students with disabilities who transfer to another non-failing school within another public school system remain eligible for services as outlined in the current Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The receiving LEA may convene an IEP meeting to make any revisions to the IEP based on the needs of the student within the new environment. Students with disabilities who transfer to a non-public school will be eligible for the services provided to non-public schools contained in the LEA Non-Public School Special Education Services Plan.
Dr. Bice indicated that the State Revenue Department would release guidelines pertaining to the specific tax credit issues.
Click on the links below for specific information
AAA Regulation Talking Points
AAA Business Rules
Failing Schools Section 4(3)i List
Failing Schools Section 4(3)iii List
Alabama Accountability Act of 2013
If you are unable to access the links in this document, you may visit CLAS Update section under the Communications menu at www.clasleaders.org.
L. Earl Franks, CAE