The state Department of Education released its annual list of failing schools Friday and Birmingham-area schools make up 30% of the schools on the statewide list.
Six of the area districts, Birmingham City Schools, Jefferson County Schools, Bessemer City Schools, Fairfield Schools, Tarrant Schools and Midfield Schools had schools on the list.
The list is composed of the bottom 6% of schools based on students’ standardized test scores.
Although Birmingham City Schools had 16 schools on the list, Superintendent Lisa Herring said: “We are not a failing school system. We recognize there is work to be done. We are a turnaround district, and we will not be satisfied until every scholar in our district is highly successful.” Read more.
Two Birmingham-area school systems scored better than last year on the 2018-2019 annual Education Report Card issued by the Alabama State Department of Education.
Jefferson County Schools and Birmingham City Schools each improved overall by one letter grade. Jefferson County received a B and Birmingham City Schools scored a C. The statewide grade was a B, with 84 points.
The department has revamped presentation of the report card on its website to make viewing and searching for information easier. The enhanced site allows side-by-side comparison of up to four schools and uses colorful graphs and illustrations to make detailed information on student demographics, teacher credentials and school performance easier to read and understand. Read more.
Raisa Eady never saw it coming — which was by design.
The biology teacher at Pinson Valley High School knew something big was happening when officials from the Alabama State Department of Education, Jefferson County Schools, local governments and the Milken Family Foundation showed up for an assembly in the school auditorium. Some teacher was about to receive a big award.
But when her name was announced as the winner of the Milken Educator Award, she sat in disbelief.
“When it (the announcement) happened, everyone looked around and I said, ‘Oh, it is me?’ They said yes and I said, ‘No way!’” Eady told reporters afterward. “I’m so honored and overwhelmed today. I definitely had no idea this was happening. … I have not even grasped what’s happened yet. I feel extremely blessed, grateful — and overwhelmed.”
She did have a literal grasp on a big check, though. The award, given by the Milken Family Foundation, comes with a prize of $25,000, and no restrictions on how it may be used. Read more.
It was a history-making moment for the Jefferson County Board of Education.
The board on Wednesday unanimously selected Dr. Walter Gonsoulin Jr. as interim superintendent, making him the first African American to head the system in its 200 years of existence. Gonsoulin is temporarily replacing the departing Dr. Craig Pouncey.
“I feel humbled and honored to be chosen by the board,” Gonsoulin said after the meeting.
Gonsoulin joined JefCoEd as a deputy superintendent of school and community support in 2017. One of six deputies currently on the JefCoEd staff, he has had oversight over half of the system’s schools. Before that, Gonsoulin served as superintendent of Fairfield City Schools, a job he took in 2012 after moving from an assistant superintendent’s post in Starkville, Mississippi’s city school system. Read more.
The U.S. Department of Education announced a $25 million grant today to support charter schools in Alabama. The money will go to New Schools for Alabama, an organization that encourages the growth of charter schools. Tyler Barnett, executive director of New Schools for Alabama, told WBHM in an earlier interview the money will help fund 15 schools. He said the group will focus on serving educationally disadvantaged students. Read more.
Birmingham City Schools administrators who participated in Harvard University’s Public Leadership Project presented the school board with actions they’ve implemented as a result of attending the program.
In the Aug. 13 board meeting, the team cited the district’s troubled history of superintendent turnover, inconsistent instructional guidelines and poorly defined roles for principals as instructional leaders as the reason 72% of the schools currently score “D” and “F” on the state Educational Report Card. The team identified five strategies for improving schools to a “C” grade or higher by 2023. Read more.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced Tuesday that the pilot program of his Birmingham Promise Education Initiative had been successfully completed, though he entreated members of the city’s business community to partner with the internship program as it expands. Read more.
A new study by WalletHub ranked Alabama’s schools 46th in the country.
The study also gave Alabama a quality ranking of 44 and a safety ranking of 47. Alabama ranked among the bottom five states in math test scores and in the bottom 10 states for spending,
WalletHub’s analysis considered 29 metrics that accounted for performance, funding, safety, class size and instructor credentials. Read more.
Navigate Affordable Housing Partners, a housing and community development nonprofit organization, has donated $50,000 to Washington K-8 School as part of its work in the North Titusville neighborhood.
“Any development community effort is only successful it you have schools. Strong schools make for strong communities and strong communities have healthy families,” Lisa McCarroll, CEO of the group, said while presenting the donation during a Birmingham Board of Education board meeting June 11. Read more.
As 2020 rolls in, BirminghamWatch looks back at its biggest stories of 2019, highlighting a different one each day.
When Dr. Terrell Brown took over as principal at Birmingham City’s Minor Elementary School, the school had a failing “F” grade. By the time he left three years later, Minor had improved to a “C.”
Over at W.E. Putnam Middle School, where Brown is now, the goal is to do a repeat.
Brown is taking his best practices from Minor and his time at Midfield City Schools and is applying them to his efforts to turn Putnam around from its “F” report card grade and five-time appearance on the AAA failing schools list. Read more.
Read the rest of BirminghamWatch’s special report on Birmingham schools:
Making the Grade? How Birmingham City Schools Are Doing Depends on Which Measure You Choose.
An Introduction to Birmingham Schools, From A to F
The History of the Birmingham City Schools
Many Questions About Birmingham City Schools Remain After Three Months of Trying to Understand the State of Education
Questions submitted to the Birmingham City Schools
The History of the Birmingham City Schools
Birmingham Schools’ Superintendent Talks About Facing Competition for Students, Being Accountable and Building Relationships.
More of BirminghamWatch’s Best in 2019
Birmingham‘s Technology, Start-up Scene Thrives, ‘Innovation District’ in Development Spotlight