Superintendent: Birmingham City Schools on state's failing list should be recognized for progress

Dr. Craig Witherspoon, Birmingham City Schools Superintendent. (

The Birmingham Board of Education says the list of failing schools released by the Alabama State Department of Education doesn't provide the "whole story", and they are urging parents not to jump to any conclusions.

"We need to look a little deeper than who is on the list," Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon said in a news release Tueday. "Let's look at the growth these schools have made."

Witherspoon points out that some of the schools on the list were considered failing due to previous poor performances.

"[Witherspoon] pointed out that both Robinson and Arrington were not in the bottom 6 percent in 2010, 2011 or 2012 but are included on the list because of their 2007, 2008 and 2009 scores. The scores at both schools increased by more than 20 points."

"If you look at the last two or three years, there definitely has been growth at most of these schools," Witherspoon said.

Hill Elementary School was used as an example of an improving school that the state considered failing.

"For example, 53 percent of students at Hill made the cut in 2009. In 2012, the last year used in the calculations, 78 percent of Hill students was at or above grade level, for a 25-point increase."{}

Bush Middle School was also mentioned as one of the city's schools trending in a positive direction in relation to its overall performance.

"Bush Middle School made it out of the bottom 6 percent in 2012 with an increase of 17 points in one year."

Witherspoon wants people to recognize the schools that are making progress, although they are deemed "failing" by the state.

"Schools that have made double-digit gains are not failing schools," Witherspoon said. "Let's recognize the schools that are making progress and focus on those that are not."

The release goes on to cite the overall progress the district is making with the incorporation of International Baccalaureate programs, career academies as six high schools, the increased number of Advanced Placement courses in all high schools and the implementation of support programs for at-risk students experiencing difficulty in school.

"We know that we still have work to do," Witherspoon said. "But schools also need to be recognized for the progress they have made."

The 11 Birmingham City Schools on the state's failing list include Bush Middle School, Center Street Middle School, Green Acres Middle School, Hill Elementary School, Martha Gaskins Middle School, Ossie Ware Mitchell Middle School, Robinson Elementary School, Robinson Elementary School, Arrington Middle School, Wylam K-8 School and Hayes K-8 School.

According to Witherspoon, date has shown that all eleven of Birmingham's failing schools have displayed progress while discussions on how to improve its middle schools remain ongoing.

See the complete list of failing schools in Alabama here.


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