As far back as I can remember of my school days, getting an F was the end of the world. You were not just low on the totem pole–you were somewhere way down under it.
Of course I knew about As, Bs, Cs and Ds too. And I figured that an F was so bad that whoever came up with the grading system just plum skipped right over a grade of E. I mean, they wanted everyone to know that an F was in a category all by itself.
But in Alabama, thanks to the collective wisdom of our legislature and some of the wacky laws they pass, you can be labeled as “failing” even though your grade is higher than an F. And on the other hand, you can get an F and not be considered failing.
Of course it is ridiculous and makes no sense at all. But consider the source.
In 2013 we passed the Alabama Accountability Act that says each year we have to come up with a “failing” school list made up of the bottom six percent of all schools. This list was released in January and has 75 schools on it. And in 2012 we passed a bill saying that all schools should be given a letter grade of A-F. That list came out a couple of weeks ago.
Now my Auburn educated logic tells me that if you are a “failing” school, then you must have an F as a grade.
But not in Alabama. Not according to the 2012 law and the 2013 law.
For instance, Monroe County high school and Linden high school are both on the “failing’ school list. But they both got a C on the A-F report card. Say what? In fact, of the 75 schools on the failing list, less than one-half of them got an F.
Take Montgomery County school system for example. The one in the news so much these days. The one that is under state intervention. The same system that former state superintendent Mike Sentance used as his guinea pig for ideas that don’t work and money ill-spent.
According to the state, Montgomery had 11 failing schools. But according to the A=F list, they had 17 F schools. And nine of the F schools were not on the failing list–while three Montgomery high schools on the failing list did not get an F.
Confused? I don’t blame you. None of this makes any sensel. And people wonder why educators get stressed out these days. Is there a slight chance it is because of nonsense such as this?