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Lanett Schools respond to state report card

LANETT — Echoing sentiments made by the Chambers County School Board, Lanett City School administrators have taken issue with the Alabama State Department of Education’s 2017-18 report card scoring.

Lanett’s school district received an overall score of 71, which was up from last school year’s 68. While Superintendent Phillip Johnson said he is happy to see the improvement, he and his staff are still unsure of the state’s system.

“Of course, we agree that there has to be some kind of accountability, some quantification of what we do because the public deserves that,” he said. “I am just not sure that our leaders at the state level have figured out what that should look like.”

The main concern brought up by administrators was the variance on testing administered to the students each year. With the standardized test changing to Scantron assessments two years ago and the state deciding on which to choose in the upcoming school year, administrators and teachers alike are “frustrated” that the “totally different” tests are not grading students appropriately.

“You can’t compare apples to oranges,” W. O. Lance Assistant Principal Allyson Matthews said. “When the state changes the way they are going to measure you, turn around and send that information out to the public and then try to tell you that you are a ‘C’ school because of that one test on one day, it just flies into the face of everything educators are trained to be.”

The standardized test administered by the state is the metric used for the report card score on Academic Achievement, and the Lanett City School District scored a 44.52. Academic Growth, which the district scored a 78.98 on, is graded on the report card as a student’s test score one year compared to one taken in a previous grade.

“We fought for years for growth to be considered because for years they would not even think about it,” Johnson said. “As a teacher, though, when you receive this child in August and you get them to a whole other grade level in May, that’s your goal as a school teacher. That’s growth. For them to finally recognize that we say thank you.”

Having said that, though, Johnson and other administrators were still concerned that the achievement and growth metric did not consider “soft skills,” or in other words, developments in students that can’t necessarily be quantified.

Matthews and Lanett High School Principal Jennifer Boyd argued that growth should be the sum of a student’s abilities, including test scores with factors like club involvement and adjustment to learning.

“We are going to be able to produce students that go out and are ready for a career,” Matthews said. “If you graduate a student that has the highest ACT score, but you haven’t turned out a young lady or a gentleman, you haven’t done your job.”