The Shelby County School District has received an 88 (B) on the newly released Alabama State Report Card Prototype for 2017. In a year when many districts in the state of Alabama saw plummeting scores due to changes used to determine the grade, Shelby County remained consistent with only a three-point difference from last year’s score.
Superintendent Randy Fuller said the slight difference in the grade is primarily due to changes made to the metric, or formula, used by the state department of education to calculate the report card scores, which are now required by both state and federal law.
Out of 137 school districts, Shelby County Schools is ranked 14th on the list. Shelby County is also the highest ranking county district, along with being the highest ranked district of its size with an enrollment of 20,625 students.
According to the Alabama State Department of Education, the report cards reflect several different factors including academic achievement, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, as well as graduation rates and college and career readiness for high schools.
This year, the state deleted two areas previously used to calculate the scores – a local indicator and student attendance. For the Shelby County School District, the local indicator previously used was the implementation of student-led conferences, which were well received by both students and parents and will continue to be a priority for the district. Student attendance was also a positive factor for the district, which generally boasts an average daily attendance rate in the mid-nineties.
For the 2017 Report Card calculations, a new measurement of chronic absenteeism was added for all grade levels. For high schools, academic growth and college and career readiness were also added, with dropout students now included in the measurement of college and career readiness. The state defined chronic absenteeism “as any student who misses 15 days or more of school,” which included both excused and unexcused absences.
“Chronic absenteeism has been determined to be an area of focus,” said Fuller. “This category was not originally a part of the accountability measure, and it was a surprise to learn that excused absences counted against the district the same as unexcused absences. This is an area where the district will partner with parents to address the issue.”
In addition to the district receiving a report card score, each school also received a score. Schools which only house grades K-2 did not receive a score because state assessments are given to students in third through eighth grades and to students in the tenth grade.
“Academic growth was shown to be a strength, as many schools in the district demonstrated high growth in achievement,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Lynn Carroll. “This is attributed to the hard work of teachers and administrators as they drilled into student assessment data and used the information to help each student move from point A to point B. The district also had the largest number ever of students to benchmark in all areas of the ACT, which is an indicator of college and career readiness.”
Fuller said the district’s focus on continuous improvement will continue to help all schools in Shelby County make data-driven decisions that benefit instruction and student achievement.
“Shelby County Schools has a mantra of continuous improvement,” said Fuller. “The district will continue practices that have been proven effective, and will embrace any focus areas in order to continue providing a quality education for all students.”
For the past 12 years, Shelby County Schools has utilized a practice of Continuous School Improvement (CSI) in each school. Each year an assessment is made of their performance and goals are set for each individual school. School leadership teams then develop strategies to accomplish these goals. Data is collected from many sources to give a comprehensive view of student and school performance. Interim assessments conducted at specific times during the school year give teachers a periodic view of their students’ progress.
“While standardized test scores and state-mandated indicators provide important information, it only gives us a snapshot of student and school performance,” Fuller said. “Shelby County Schools look at year-to-year improvement in all categories. We also maintain a list of success indicators along with other measures which help to guide us in preparing our students for their journey to be college ready, career ready, and most important, life ready.”