Resistance to school reconfiguration is still brewing as Dothan students head into the new school year.

Alabama’s report card score, which was issued Oct. 18, showed that the entire district improved overall because of a three-point increase in score.

However, looking at all of the indicators that contributed to that score, the area of chronic absenteeism saw the most improvement.

This past year, Alabama Department of Education officials decided to change the benchmark that determines chronic absenteeism. In years past, the department decided that students who had 15 or more absences were considered chronically absent, but changed that figure before the report to 18 days, aligning it with a more nationally accepted standard.

In a year-to-year comparison, the entire state showed improvement in that area, but it is unclear if the improvement was an indication of better attendance or that students were better able to meet the lower standard.

DCS’ academic achievement decreased two points, from a 65 to a 63 (rounded), along with the high schools’ graduation rate. The report also showed fewer students proficient in all reported subject areas — math, reading, and science. However, the school system did see slight improvement in the areas of academic growth and “college and career readiness” standard.

For many districts, the report grade is an all-inclusive measure by which to compare all schools in a way that is easy to digest for the community and parents. It provides insight to what schools or systems are improving — like Daleville City Schools, which upped its overall score 11 points in a single year — and shows which schools are worsening and why.

For many, the report card can be used as a marker to shown where they came and where they’re going.

For DCS, the report card only shows where they’ve come — a glaring divide between their top-performing magnet schools, heavily weighted with white, high-income students, to other low-performing schools like Honeysuckle and Faine, weighted with a high minority, economically disadvantaged student population.

The imbalance in grades and student behavior are clear on state student incident reports and report card grades.

Since district lines have been redrawn and all schools are serving in different capacities, save for maybe Highlands Elementary, which was least affected, the report card gives little insight to the course Dothan City Schools is headed.

This coming year should prove Dothan City School’s new benchmark year.

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Chalk Talk, an education notebook compiled by education beat reporter Sable Riley, appears each weekend in the Dothan Eagle and at dothaneagle.com.

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