- Cullman, Alabama


December 13, 2012

City school's Harris helping draft new state ed. grading system

School systems will soon receive A-F report cards

After a decade of trying to decipher Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports, local educators can breathe a sigh of relief — starting in 2014, schools will receive a simple A to F rating to determine how well they are performing.

The State Department of Education is developing a new rating system to measure school achievement across Alabama, and Cullman City Schools Dr. Jan Harris is currently serving on the committee.

The Alabama Legislature passed a law to establish the new measuring stick, which will replace AYP and the federal No Child Left Behind initiative, and appointed 16 educators to a committee to figure out how the new system will work. The state is still waiting for official confirmation that the waiver from NCLB has been approved.

Comprised of school superintendents, board members, principals and teachers, the Accountability Task Force has been asked to create a preliminary plan by Dec. 31.

“Our job is to come up with a format for that information that is easy to understand for citizens, so when they pull that report card they can understand student achievement, local indicators of success and information about teacher effectiveness,” Harris said.

Harris said the plan is for the new grading system to represent the cumulative impression of a variety of factors.

“It will reflect overall academic proficiency, reflect academic improvements made by each public school, and it must reflect other key performance indicators to give a total profile of the school, school system or both,” Harris said. “It’s really an eye-opening experience, because it’s very difficult to capture that. I think of it like a onion, with layer after layer going into it.”

Everything from poverty rates, demographics, student achievement and ACT scores could play into the equation.

“The committee unanimously agrees that we don’t want just one grade,” Harris said. “I think there should be multiple grades for each system, like how a child gets a grade in different subjects. We think there should be different areas that schools get grades in.”

With No Child Left Behind standards reaching a critical juncture in 2014, nearly every state in the nation has applied for a waiver to develop more-localized plans. The NCLB standards require 100 percent of students to pass standardized tests in reading and math by 2014, meaning virtually every system would likely “fail” AYP if the standards continue.

“I think it will be a positive change, and I love to use this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘To be simple is to be great,’” Harris said. “If educators have difficulty interpreting and explaining AYP, the common lay-person would have difficulty as well. I think we should be able to report student achievements through simple means of communication.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.


Text Only
  • Winston County Technology Center Wins AAA/Ford Auto Skills State Championship

    Twenty high school automotive students from across the state turned out in hopes of tuning out the competition today in the State Finals of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. The students fought for scholarships in the automotive industry and for the chance to advance to the National Finals, which take place at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. The competition, which is geared toward students looking to jumpstart their careers in the automotive industry, is especially relevant for today’s struggling economy, in which car owners are putting more money into car repair and maintenance as a way of avoiding the big-ticket purchase of a new car.

    April 16, 2014

  • Variety of classes offered during Homeschool Spring Workshops

    Wallace State Community College’s Continuing Education Department has a full slate of classes to offer homeschool students this spring with the second session as a continuation of the first session.

    April 14, 2014

  • WSCC invesTECHgate 1.jpg Wallace State to host approximately 600 high school juniors during ‘InvesTECHgate’ week beginning April 14   

    Wallace State Community College will host its third annual “InvesTECHgate” week beginning April 14, and this year’s event should be the biggest draw yet.
    Various Wallace State technical programs are set to be flooded with approximately 600 high school juniors from Blount, Cullman and Morgan Counties. InvesTECHgate allows high school students who may be interested in pursuing a career in the technical field to get an in-depth look at those programs on the collegiate level.

    April 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • WSCC Ponder named gold scholar.jpg Wallace State Sophomore Ponder named 2014 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Gold Scholar

    Levi Ponder, a 2012 Vinemont graduate, is one of only 50 Gold Scholars among qualified candidates across 38 states, standing out among more than 1,700 applicants. The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society administers the Coca-Cola Community College Academic team and it will recognize Ponder at the Phi Theta Kappa National Convention on Friday, April 26 in Orlando, Fla.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commentary: At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • Wallace State Earns National Award for Marketing

    Wallace State Community College in Hanceville was recognized by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) for its “Hot Jobs” television advertisement series during the Medallion Awards ceremony at organization’s annual conference in March in New Orleans. The commercials, which spotlight career opportunities related to degree and certificate programs offered by the college, are part of Wallace State’s popular Be One of Us marketing campaign.

    April 4, 2014

  • Samford University to Host Minority Youth Science Academy July 6-9

    Samford University will host a Minority Youth Science Academy July 6-9 to help prepare outstanding minority high school students who aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    April 2, 2014

  • Wallace State’s Practical Nursing program tops state ranking

    The Practical Nursing program at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., is at the top of the list when it comes to the success of students passing the National Council Licensure for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam.

    March 31, 2014

  • Wallace State set to help with new GED exam

    With the changes in how the exam is administered and new fees, Wallace State Community College’s Adult Education program has taken steps to make sure students seeking to earn their GED are successful in their efforts.

    March 21, 2014

  • WSCC Sloan earns 99s WSCC Flight Technology student Chelsie Sloan becomes first female in program to earn Ninety-Nines, Inc. scholarship

    Wallace State Community College dual enrollment student Chelsie Sloan wasn’t sure about her career path as she approached her senior year at Corner High School.

    March 19, 2014 1 Photo