Thanks to Plan 2020, the state’s strategic plan for improving the state’s public schools, schools and the communities they serve have increased access to data on school performance measures.
Local systems are examining how their students perform on the Aspire, the new benchmark test given to student in grades 3 through 8. Systems are also tracking graduation rates, remediation rates, and scores on the ACT, the widely-known college readiness test. These performance measures, and others, can be used in goal-setting and evaluation. Through a careful analysis of the results, school systems can recognize areas of strength and areas of weakness, and then craft plans to improve.
In Tuscaloosa, The West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the Schools Foundation, for the third year in a row, commissioned PARCA to take a close look at the Tuscaloosa City and County Schools Systems and present the results to city and county school leaders and to the public at large at their annual Education Summit, held this year on June 16.
PARCA’s report put the two systems’ results in context, describing the financial and personnel resources each system has to work with and the demographics of each system’s students. PARCA identifies similarly situated systems in the state, creating a peer group of schools, and then compares the Tuscaloosa City and Tuscaloosa County results with those of peer systems.
“We believe that every student can learn at higher levels, and that means every school can improve its results from year to year,” Williams told the audience. “There is no such thing as a perfect school or school system, or a perfect organization of any type for that matter. A school system has a number of goals, and it needs to focus on meeting all of them. Like any organization, it will do some things very well, other things pretty well, and still others not so well. So we don’t give school systems a single rank. Rather, we analyze the key indicators so that a system can build on its successes and at the same time improve where that is needed.”