Tuscaloosa County School System Earns a B in New Report Card, Shows Double-Digit Increase in Academic Growth
October 18, 2019
The Alabama State Department of Education released the Alabama Education Report Card on Friday, as well as Report Cards for each school system and individual schools across the state. Using data from the 2018-2019 school year, the Report Card uses six Accountability Indicators to calculate a letter grade for the state, each school system and each school. The Tuscaloosa County School System received an overall grade of B, with a total of 83 points. Compared to the 2017-2018 Report Card, TCSS showed an overall gain of six points, moving up one letter grade.
Within the six Accountability Indicators, TCSS either showed gains or remained level with the previous year’s scores. One indicator where TCSS showed significant gains was the Academic Growth indicator, with an increase of 12.5 percentage points.
“One of the areas in which we are certainly proud of all of our schools is in Academic Growth,” TCSS Superintendent Dr. Walter Davie said.
“The progress in this indicator shows that students are meeting annual growth targets of performance. Every school in our system, regardless of proficiency scores, showed significant gains in this area. Academic growth is a critical area and the one where the most rapidly improving schools and districts across the nation place their focus.”
Each of TCSS’s 34 schools also received a letter grade, based on the same indicators as the system score. All schools showed progress in one or more areas. Like the district, many schools posted high percentages in Academic Growth, resulting in large overall score increases for some schools. No matter what score an individual school received, school and system-level administrators are developing strategies to address specific needs and continue growth at each school.
At the system level, TCSS showed gains in College and Career Readiness and Progress in English Language Proficiency, compared to the previous Report Card. The English Language Learner population in TCSS has tripled over the past five years. Scores for Academic Achievement and Graduation Rate remained level with the previous year.
While the system had an overall decrease in the number of students who are Chronically Absent, some individual schools continued to show significant rates of Chronic Absenteeism. Chronic Absenteeism is defined as missing 18 or more days in a school year, for any reason, excused or unexcused. Not only does Chronic Absenteeism negatively impact the Report Card score, but the greater concern is the negative impact on student learning.
“The leading predictor for a student to possibly become a high school dropout is poor attendance,” Davie said.
“The Tuscaloosa County School System’s Report Card shows that only 9.43% of our students are labeled as chronically absent. However, there are individual schools and school zones where much work is needed. This speaks directly to help needed from parents, as it is clear that students who do not attend school regularly lose significant amounts of instructional time, generally show poorer academic achievement, and are in danger of dropping out. While our school system is significantly lower than the State’s average in students who are chronically absent, we hope parents will work with us in continuing to minimize this area of concern.”
Aside from specific strategies to address individual school needs and goals, TCSS continues to implement system-wide strategies, to continue the progress the system has shown in Accountability Indicators. These strategies include:
- Collecting data throughout the school year, so instructional changes are made as needed. This includes intervention for struggling students and enrichment for high-achieving students.
- Working to make sure teachers clearly understand content standards.
- Counseling and tracking student progress toward graduation, as well as college and career planning.
- Strengthening efforts with parents to ensure students are never unnecessarily absent.
- Providing high-quality professional development for teachers.
- Implementing new initiatives to aid progress for our growing English Language Learner population.
- Focusing on literacy and writing skills across all grades.
In addition to the Overall Score and Accountability Indicators, the System Report Card also includes student and system demographic information, percentages of proficiency by subject, and educator profile information. For instance, educator profile information for TCSS shows more than half of the system’s educators have earned a master’s degree or higher.
Families can find more information about their school’s individual Report Card score through the school’s web site or office.
The Alabama State Department of Education developed the Report Card to comply with state and federal law. In 2012, the Alabama Legislature created the Legislative School Performance Recognition Program Act, which requires a letter grade to be assigned to most Alabama public schools. The Report Card is also in accordance with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Find more information about the Report Card at the Alabama State Department of Education web site.