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Schools removed, added to failing list

CHAMBERS — The State of Alabama recently released an updated version of its list of failing schools and two local schools were mentioned.

According to the state website, the Alabama Accountability Act requires the failing label be placed on the schools whose student test results are in the bottom six percent of all schools statewide. Seventy-five of Alabama’s 1,325 schools landed on the list due to a poor showing on the state’s standardized test in the spring of 2017. Twenty-four schools were also taken off the list.

Lanett High School was added but Lanett Superintendent Phillip Johnson said the list, while unfortunate, is wrong.

“It’s asinine,” he said. “I don’t think it’s accurate.”

Johnson said results are determined by looking at the results of a test taken by the 10th grade class, which the students were not prepared for considering what the results are used for.

“It’s [taking the test] a lot of pressure,” he said, adding the test is unique to Alabama.

The list shows schools whose spring 2017 test results in math and reading on the ACT Aspire are in the lowest 6 percent of all schools in Alabama. The state’s board of education voted to drop the ACT Aspire last June and a permanent replacement test has not been named.

Johnson added the results were a surprise because last year the school received praise for the amount of AP readiness offered.

“I’m a bit deflated because even the state has no confidence in it,” he said, noting the school has seen much growth recently.

On the flip side, LaFayette High School was removed from the list following a four-year stint on it.

Chambers County Superintendent Kelli Hodge announced the results at a recent Board of Education meeting.

“We don’t have one school on that list,” she said. “I hope [LaFayette High Principal] Don Turner sleeps well tonight.”

“This is a great thing for LaFayette,” said Superintendent Johnson.

That definition of failing school was created in the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 and was tweaked in 2015 to exclude schools that exclusively serve special populations of students with disabilities.