Auburn City Schools have earned a B letter grade, Opelika City Schools a C grade, and Lee County Schools a C grade in the Alabama State Department of Education's first-time report cards for schools and school systems in the state.
The Auburn school system received an overall score of 89 points compared to Opelika's and Lee County’s overall scores of 78 points. The state average, according to the department's website report is 79 points, good enough for a C letter grade. The department said Thursday that 76 percent of the state's 137 school systems received an A, B or C.
Among the grades for individual schools, both Auburn High School (85 points) and Opelika High School (81 points) scored a B letter grade.
Six of Auburn's schools received an A letter grade, led by its elementary schools, Margaret Yarbrough (96), Ogletree (96), Wright’s Mill (96) and Pick (95). Drake Middle (92) and Auburn Junior High (90) also received an A. There was no information available for Dean Road Elementary, Auburn Early Education, Cary Woods Elementary or Richland Elementary.
Auburn City Schools Superintendent Dr. Karen DeLano said she is pleased with the general results of the report card.
"While we are pleased with the general results of the report card and appreciate the opportunity to highlight areas of success, we do look forward to the continued improvement of reporting protocol that more holistically represents the achievement of our students and schools,” DeLano said. "This report card, having been presented as a prototype, may be improved with the input of all stakeholders in communicating the important work of schools.”
Among Opelika's individual schools, Northside Intermediate (80 points) received a B letter grade, while Opelika Middle School (70) and Morris Avenue Intermediate (71) received C letter grades. West Forest Intermediate (62) received a D. No grades were available for Opelika's primary schools on the state website, stating that indicators were missing for those schools.
Opelika City Schools Superintendent Mark Neighbors said quality schools such as Opelika’s focus on curriculum standards and not teaching to the test.
“Focusing on state assessments for the sake of a better grade is a disservice to children,” he said. “While we wish to always do well on these assessments, we will put the best interests of children ahead of all else."
In the Lee County School System, Smiths Station High School (76) and Beulah (73) both received a C and Loachapoka (69) and Beauregard (67) both received a D grade.
Overall, the elementary schools fared better than the high schools. Among the seven elementary schools, South Smiths Station elementary reported an A (90) and three others, Beauregard Elementary (89), Beulah (84) and East Smiths Station (83) received a B letter grade. Loachapoka (66) did receive a D
Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mac McCoy said although the system may not agree on the manner in with the report card has been designed to accurately reflect the many facets of its schools and school system, they accept it for what it is.
“We have schools that have performed very well when evaluated using the limited criteria, and we have some schools that have had needed areas for improvement exposed,” he said. “As a system, we are not proud of a C letter grade. However, we are proud of the many things that our faculty and staff do so well for our students. The majority of this letter grade, 90 percent in fact, for our schools without a grade 12 comes from a single test given to select grade spans that our own State Department of Education has determined did not align with their adopted standards.”
Accountability indicators for the scores include academic achievement (weighted for 20 percent of the overall grade), academic growth (30 percent), graduation rate (30 percent), college and career readiness (10 percent) and chronic absenteeism (10 percent).
The cards are described as prototypes since the process is still being tweaked. The grades are based not just on the latest test scores, but how much students improve in reading and math from one year to the next.
Legislators in 2012 voted to require A-F grades for schools and school systems. Federal law requires similar reports.
Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the 2012 law, said she was disappointed that it took so long, but she is pleased the information is available to parents.
Local report cards can be viewed here.