ECHS listed as failing school

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Escambia County High School has been classified as a failing school because of its recent standardized test score on reading and math by the Alabama State Department of Education.

The Atmore school is one of 75 schools in the state that have been defined as failing by the Alabama Accountability Act of 2015. These schools fall in the bottom 6 percentile of standardized test scores. The test, the ACT Aspire, is used to measure achievement in the 10th grade.

Escambia County Schools Superintendent John Knott said the label only matters to schools’ performance in a state assessment in the areas of reading and math.

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“The past year was the first year that a newly formed test was administered to 10th grade students,” Knott said. “The test that was administered had more subsets.”

Knott said the reason why schools are graded on the two subjects is because the legislatures felt it was important to report the grades publicly.

Knott said in previous years, in order to be on the failing school list, the requirement was to be in the bottom 6 percent in the last three of six years.

“There’s a disproportionate number of high schools on the list compared to previous years,” he said.

The test was administered to sophomores for the first time last spring. This year’s juniors received their results after returning back to school last fall.

“I strongly feel that this is a gross mislabeling of Escambia County High School,” Knott said.

When asked if there are opportunities for students to learn how to take standardized tests, Knott said “absolutely.”

“We have very good teachers,” he said. “We have an excellent administrative staff out there (at ECHS) that’s got a heart and commitment to provide the best for our students and community out there. They’re working hard and are committed to improving what we’ve started with this year.

“They care about students, the community and they care about the academic and test results, and also care about what is important in schools to provide and encourage good character, among other qualities,” he said.