By Gary Lloyd
No schools from The Trussville Tribune coverage area were among the 78 “failing” schools released by the Alabama Department of Education last week.
Parents of students in the failing schools will be eligible for a state income tax credit of up to $3,500 to help send their child to a private school or a non-failing public school
The criteria for being designated as “failing” was established by the Alabama Accountability Act, a school choice law approved by lawmakers in the recent legislative session.
The closest school to The Tribune coverage area listed as “failing” was Center Point High School.
The Alabama Accountability Act defines a “failing” school as one listed as low-performing in the state’s most recent school improvement grant application or has been in the bottom 6 percent of state standardized tests in reading and math for three or more times during the last six years. The new law will give tax credits for families at failing schools to use to pay tuition at a private school or a non-failing public school.
Pinson Valley High School Principal Terrence Brown said he was “excited” that his school was not on the list.
“However, we are looking beyond a failure list and creating opportunities for our students be ready for college or enter the workforce after graduation,” Brown said. “We look forward to working with the community and make this vision a reality.”
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said the failing schools list represents poor performance on state-mandated standardized tests and an absence of one or more critical factors that must align in order for students to achieve.
“Trussville does not have any failing schools on the list because we pay close attention to each student who might be failing, and we are proactive in preparing all students for standardized tests,” Neill said.
Neill listed four critical factors for high achievement in Trussville schools: aligning a curriculum that is delivered by outstanding teachers in meaningful ways; creating a culture that motivates students to participate and achieve; encouraging parental involvement; and leadership in each school that promotes high achievement, creative instructional strategies and remediation for those students who are not performing at expected levels.
“In Trussville City Schools, we focus on all of these factors to provide every student experiences for some level of success each day,” Neill said.
Clay-Chalkville High School Principal Michael Lee said the Jefferson County Schools is a great school system.
“The leadership in Jefferson County Schools goes above and beyond as it relates to providing the necessary professional development opportunities to equip us to help students be the best they can be,” Lee said. “I am lucky to be at CCHS. The whole Clay-Chalkville community deserves the credit. I am honored to serve alongside an amazing group of teachers that work extremely hard to prepare our kids.”
Lee said Mayor Charles Webster, the city of Clay, the school’s Parent Advisory Committee and Clay Schools Committee have been instrumental in providing materials and time to help students and teachers.
“Obviously, parental support is a key factor and our school is blessed to have parents that value hard work and expect it from their children,” Lee said. “All of these resources factor into a successful school, but our students are the ones that do the work.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.