The state released the Adequate Yearly Progress results Thursday, showing how well schools in Alabama are teaching their students. While 88-percent of Montgomery schools met their goals, those that failed, considerably missed the mark.
Across Alabama, 12 schools made less than 60-percent of their AYP goals. Four of those schools are in Montgomery County: Bellingrath Middle, Floyd Elementary, King Elementary and Southlawn Middle Schools were all near the bottom of schools in Alabama.
“I think the premise of AYP and making sure that everyone meets the target is critical, the problem is, they can't all met it at the same time,” said Montgomery county schools superintendent Barbara Thompson.
Thompson says special education is the biggest sub-group hurting Montgomery’s AYP results.
There are nearly 4,400 special education students, but they do not receive diplomas, only certificate’s of approval.
“That counts against our district, it does not count towards our graduation rate,” Thompson said. “So it makes us look lower than we actually are because we have those kids.”
Alabama Board of Education superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice says special education students shouldn’t be assessed the same way as others, which is why he is proposing to get rid of AYP all together with his “Plan 2020”.
“If you look at the subgroups of students in Alabama, who has actually shown the most growth over the last few years, is special education students, but because they didn’t reach the district cut score, it didn’t count,” Bice said.
Some local parents say special education students can't be all to blame for Montgomery's failed results; they think it also reflects on the classroom and teachers.
“Most [of the] teachers at these schools… only time you get a call from them about your student is when they're in trouble,” Cortez Webb, a Montgomery parent said. “They don't call you and let you know, hey, she did good on this test and your child is doing good on that test, you only get a call if your children's doing bad.”
Webb thinks Dr. Bice’s plan to get rid of AYP and restructure classes around college and career prep is just what his child needs to succeed in today’s workforce.
“If you're preparing children for the future, because that's what beholds the future,” Webb said. “That's why they're in school, to learn. But I think that's good to get them ready for the real world, because if you don't, they won't be ready for nothing but trouble.”
The good news: 2012’s Adequate Yearly Progress numbers could be the last for Alabama schools, so teachers can focus their attention on students' growth versus a single exam.
The state will propose the Plan 2020 to the U.S. Department of Education September 6th, and attempt to waive the No Child Left Behind Act.
As for Montgomery County Schools, the district wants to use the new program to increase special education development.