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APR scores reviewed

By Leigh Anne Butler

The Alabama Department of Education released the annual state report card for all Alabama public schools for the 2022-23 school year in mid-December. Overall, the state of Alabama received an 83 score, which was down from 84 from the previous school year.

Tallassee City Schools received an overall 78 score for the school system. Each of the three Tallassee City Schools received individual grades. Tallassee Elementary scored the highest with an 81. Southside Middle School scored a 75 and Tallassee High School a 65.

The Alabama Department of Education compiles report cards for each of Alabama’s public schools annually. There are six indicators used to calculate a school’s grade for the report card: academic achievement, academic growth, progress in English language proficiency, chronic absenteeism, graduation rate and college and career readiness.

At the high school level, the six indicators are weighted as follows:

- Graduation Rate: 30 percent
- Academic Growth: 25 percent
- Academic Achievement: 20 percent
- College and Career Readiness: 10 percent
- Chronic Absenteeism: 10 percent
- English Language Proficiency: 5 percent

“We didn’t reach the n-count of 20 for English language proficiency (this past school year),” Tallassee High School principal Drew Glass stated, “so that five percent shifts to academic growth.”

The Alabama Department of Education reported 1,363 schools in the state, of which 206 were deemed “priority schools.” Tallassee High School falls in that category.

“We've (I as the superintendent) have not done a great job at expressing the importance of the state tests,” Tallassee City Schools superintendent Brock Nolin explained. “I've always believed that specifically teaching a student to beat a test was a disservice to the student. Teaching a student to thrive and be prepared for the world has always been most salient to me. Having said that, with government funding comes specific accountability measures. Currently, the measuring stick for accountability rests in high-stakes tests (ACAP/ACT) or career outcomes (credentials).”

Tallassee City School administrators have several strategies in place to assist with increasing the school system’s scores.

A peek inside one of the classrooms at the new high school

“In preparation for "the test" (ACAP grades 2-8 and the ACT grades 9-11), during the months of January through mid- March, we will implement explicit, strategic teaching strategies aligned with the spring tests,” Nolin elaborated. “While I don't believe in ‘teaching to a test,’ I understand the gravity of these assessments. Therefore, we will work tirelessly to ensure our students are situated for success. After the tests each spring, we'll refocus on the whole child, which is where focus should be regardless.”

While some of the indicators used to assess the report card grades are determined in a classroom or testing settings, there are several ways parents can help improve scores.

“The biggest way parents can help is to encourage students to be in school,” Nolin added. “Try to plan doctor’s appointments after school if possible. I know sometimes you just have to go when the appointment is made, but for things like teeth cleanings or wellness checkups, try to work around school hours if possible.”

Glass also gave measures parents can take to help.

“Parents can talk with their students about the importance of academics and the ACT test and help work on making sure their student is at school each day. THS is putting a strong emphasis on teaching ACT strategies and skills from January to the testing date in March and we are working on improving chronic absenteeism.”

Tallassee City Schools reported 1,448 students for the school system for the 2022-23 academic year, which was down from 1,584 from the previous year.

Report cards published by The Alabama Department of Education also include student demographics, proficiency in English/Language Arts, Math and Science, and educator certification demographics. Report card grades and information for Tallassee City Schools and all other Alabama public schools can be accessed here.