The state department of education released its “failing” public schools list of 75 names, but one from last year’s list is no longer present.
Crossville High School was recognized last year as one of those failing schools — the list shows whose test results in math and reading on the ACT Aspire test are in the lowest 6 percent of all schools in Alabama. However, the school was nowhere to be found when those results came last week.
The test the past two years was administered to county 10th graders, and in January 2017 Crossville’s then-principal David Uptain said there were a few things that attributed to the low scores. He said he had 160 students in the sophomore class and only 50 computers that could administer the test.
Uptain and the staff took offense to the “failing” title, and DeKalb County Superintendent Jason Barnett said they immediately went to work to correct it.
“I think the faculty, staff and administration really took offense to being labeled a failing school,” he said. “They got some strong teachers and students, and so they took offense to that. They knew, ‘Hey, we’re better than that, and we’re not failures.’
“So, they dug in together and they revamped and refocused and took a close look at their instruction.”
Barnett said they reflected on the data and set new goals and ways to reach those goals.
Jon Peppers, who was approved as new principal by the DeKalb County Board of Education in July 2017, said his teachers would quiz students daily on the types of questions they might see on that Aspire test.
“The teachers had done a great job with the ACT prep classes with getting kids ready and familiar with the tests,” Peppers said. “We had tried this year to come in and expose the kids to as many ACT-type questions during a class.
“So, that way they are not so stressed out or have any test anxiety when they hear that.”
Peppers said they took the test on paper this year, which helped eliminate the computer problems.
He said these results were a better representation of the students, and he applauded his staff for their hard work.
Barnett said the list was sent out to superintendents across the state of Alabama Jan.23, but the following day he was able to confirm that Crossville had been removed from the list.
“That was an affirmation for us that some of the things that we had been doing were working,” Barnett said.
The Alabama State Board of Education decided to ditch the Aspire test in June 2017. So, there will be a new test next year to determine these results when they come out in 2019.
Peppers said in his first year his staff has focused on technology and preparing students for college and careers after high school.
Barnett said Peppers, Uptain and the entire Crossville staff “deserve all the recognition” for removing the failing distinction.