Seven schools in the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) have been identified as “failing” under the definition created by the Alabama Accountability Act (AAA) this year, which is a reduction from 2018, but also included schools that had previously been removed from the list only to be placed back on it.
The drop in the number of failing MCPSS schools continues a trend of recent improvements for the system on various state accountability metrics. Last month, the 2019 report cards released by the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) showed none of the district’s 80-plus schools scoring below a D.
Unlike the school report cards, which evaluate a number of factors, the AAA narrowly defines “failing” as any school scoring in the bottom 6 percent on statewide standardized tests. The current list is based on the results of the Scantron test students took last spring, which is the last time that particular exam will be used to measure student achievement. ALSDE is expected to unveil a permanent replacement in 2020.
Across Alabama, 74 schools in 28 school districts were included on the AAA list this year, though MCPSS — the state’s largest — had fewer failing schools than most districts its size. This year, 16 Birmingham City Schools were deemed failing, along with 11 schools in Montgomery County.
Chastang-Fournier K-8, Calloway-Smith Middle, Williamson Preparatory, Pillans Middle, B.C. Rain High, Blount High and LeFlore High were the schools from MCPSS included on the 2019 list.
In a statement to Lagniappe this week, MCPSS Superintendent Chresal Threadgill said reducing the number of schools on the failing list has been one of the system’s specific goals for years. He praised this year’s results, but said “progress is a process that takes time, dedication and continued hard work.”
“Even though we in [MCPSS] are making progress, we are not yet at our intended destination,” he wrote. “As I stated in the report card press conference last week, our goal is to remove one or two schools from the failing list each year. Today, I am announcing that we have achieved that goal.”
In all, four MCPSS schools — Morningside Elementary, Booker T. Washington Middle, Mobile County Training School and Vigor High — found their way off the failing list this year. However, Threadgill did note that Blount and LeFlore high schools were added back to the list after coming off in 2018.
Still, MCPSS’s overall trajectory in this area appears to trending upwards. Since the AAA was passed in 2013, Mobile County has recorded at least five schools on the failing list it created every year. That number ballooned up to 12 in 2016 but has continued to drop a few schools at a time ever since.
Threadgill also noted the juxtaposition between some of the schools identified as failing under AAA and the scores those same schools got on their recent report cards from ALSDE. For instance, B.C. Rain and Calloway-Smith were both included on this year’s failing list despite earning overall Cs the same year.
“Keep in mind that [MCPSS] improved greatly on our state report card, with no schools making Fs, and the district as a whole moving up to a B,” Threadgill said. “But, by nature of the failing schools list, 6 percent of Alabama’s schools are going to be on it every year.”
Still, Threadgill said the ultimate goal for MCPSS is to one day have no schools on the list.
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