Alabama – Accountability

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The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. ESSA requires states to submit plans to the U.S. Department of Education (US ED) describing the state systems for evaluating school performance and holding schools accountable for improvement. States could submit their plans to the US ED by either April 3 or September 18, 2017. After receiving feedback on their plans from the US ED, states finalize their plans. State accountability systems take effect in school year 2017-18. 

SREB developed this profile based on analysis of the plan Alabama submitted to the US ED on October 13, 2017. (The state received an extension from the US ED to submit its plan by October 13, 2017, due to Hurricane Irma.) SREB will update the profile when Alabama finalizes its plan.

State Highlights: Expectations for College and Career Readiness

States are not required to include college- and career-readiness expectations in their accountability systems under ESSA. Many SREB states, however, did set college- and career-readiness expectations in their plans, in the form of long-term goals and school performance indicators. Alabama included the following two college- and career-readiness expectations in its plan.

  1. Long-term goal. ESSA requires that states establish long-term goals based on academic achievement, high school graduation rate and English language proficiency for English learners. In addition to setting goals in these areas, Alabama also established a college- and career-readiness goal: By 2030, 94 percent of high school graduates will be identified as college and career ready, by earning at least one college- or career-readiness indicator.
  2. School performance indicator. ESSA requires states to set an indicator for school quality or student success, which can but does not have to include such measures as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. Alabama’s indicator of school quality or student success measures the percentage of high school students meeting any of the following college- and career-readiness requirements:
    • Scoring 18 in English, 22 in math, 22 in reading or 23 in science on the ACT exam; scoring 3 or higher on an AP exam; scoring 4 or higher on an IB exam; or earning a silver certificate or higher on the ACT WorkKeys exam
    • Attaining college credit or a career and technical education industry credential
    • Enlisting in the military

Read about each of these expectations below in the profile.

Long-Term Goals

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states establish long-term goals for all students and student groups based on academic achievement, high school graduation rate and English language proficiency for English learners.

Alabama established the following long-term goals.

Academic achievement

  • By 2030, the percentage of all students – and each student subgroup – not reaching proficiency on Alabama’s English language arts and math assessments will decline by 50 percent.

Graduation rate

  • By 2030, the percentage of all students – and each student subgroup – not graduating will decline by 50 percent.
  • By 2030, 94 percent of students will graduate from high school in four years; 95 percent will graduate in five years.

English language proficiency

  • By 2023, 85 percent of English learners will meet annual English language proficiency growth targets.

College and career readiness

  • By 2030, 94 percent of high school graduates will be identified as college and career ready, by earning at least one college- or career-readiness indicator.

School Performance Indicators

ESSA specifies a set of indicators that states must use to assess school performance. Indicators for all schools must include academic achievement as measured by proficiency on annual state assessments of English language arts and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. States must require 95 percent of students to participate in these assessments and factor this requirement into the school accountability system. States must also include two more indicators for all schools – English language proficiency for English learners and an indicator of school quality or student success, such as school climate and safety, student engagement and college readiness. For elementary and middle grades schools, states must include an additional academic indicator of the state’s choice, such as student growth on state assessments. For high schools, states must also include an indicator of four-year cohort graduation rate.

Alabama established the following indicators of school performance.

Level Indicators

All schools

Academic achievement: Schools must meet the 95 percent participation rate for all students and subgroups

English language proficiency: Progress towards English proficiency on state assessment – WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

School quality or student success: Attendance – rates of chronic absenteeism 

Elementary and middle grades

Academic achievement: Proficiency on state English language arts and math assessments – Scantron Performance Series

Other academic indicator: Student growth on state English language arts and math assessments – Scantron Performance Series

High schools

Academic achievement

  • Proficiency on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT exam
  • Student growth on state English language arts and math assessments – ACT exam

Graduation rate

  • Four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate
  • Five-year adjusted cohort graduation rate

School quality or student success: Any of the following college- and career-readiness requirements.

  • Scoring 18 in English, 22 in math, 22 in reading or 23 in science on the ACT exam; scoring 3 or higher on an AP exam; scoring 4 or higher on an IB exam; or earning a silver certificate or higher on the ACT WorkKeys exam
  • Attaining college credit or a career and technical education industry credential
  • Enlisting in the military

Annual Meaningful Differentiation

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states use their performance indicators to differentiate the performance of all schools and to report performance for all students and all student subgroups. States have flexibility in assigning weight to their indicators, so long as their indicators of academic achievement, graduation rate and English language proficiency together receive much greater weight than their school quality or student success indicators.

Alabama established the following framework for differentiating schools, weights for each indicator, and student subgroups and subgroup size.

Framework for differentiating schools in Alabama

On an annual basis, schools will receive an A through F letter grade for each indicator, and one overall summative A through F letter grade based on an index of the combined indicator scores.

Weights assigned to each indicator in Alabama

Weights assigned to each indicator in Alabama - Elementary and Middle Grades (40% Academic Achievement / 40% Academic Indicator / 15% School Quality or Student Success / 5% English Language Proficiency Progress) and High Schools (30% Graduation Rate / 25% Academic Achievement Student Growth / 20% Academic Achievement English Language Arts and Math / 20% School Quality or Student Success / 5% English Language Proficiency Progress)

Student subgroups in Alabama

  • Subgroups used: For state accountability, Alabama will focus on 10 student subgroups – economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, English learners, American Indian or Alaska native students, Asian students, black students, Hispanic or Latino students, native Hawaiian or Pacific islander students, students of two or more races, and white students.
  • Size of subgroups: In instances in which schools do not meet the threshold of 20 students (n-count) for any of these subgroups for an indicator, the school will not be held accountable for performance on that indicator. In instances in which a school has an n-count of fewer than 10 students in a subgroup, the subgroup results will not be reported publicly.

Identifying, Serving and Exiting Schools from Needs Improvement Status

The Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states establish a methodology for identifying low-performing schools. States must identify two categories of schools at least once every three years: those that need Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) and those that need Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI). States may also establish other categories of schools, for example those not in need of improvement.

Alabama established the following identification and exit criteria, and interventions to support schools.

Comprehensive Support and Improvement

How schools are identified

    Identified every three years beginning in 2018-19, Title I schools that meet any of these criteria: 

    • CSI schools
      • Schools in the bottom 6 percent statewide based on overall summative accountability score (A through F letter grade)
      • Schools with a history of being among the bottom 6 percent statewide, based on overall summative accountability score, for three years
    • CSI high schools: Schools with a graduation rate more than 10 percentage points below the state average
    • TSI schools that do not exit TSI status: Schools that do not exit TSI status after three years
    • CSI-Returning (CSI-R): Schools that do not exit CSI status after four years

    Interventions to meet improvement needs

    State will help local education agencies and their schools by providing:

    • General support for CSI schools including
      • Liaison to support school leadership teams with analyzing data and practice, and monitoring the impact of interventions
      • Review, approval and monitoring of district comprehensive school improvement plans
      • Differentiated technical assistance, such as on-site support, off-site, virtual and embedded professional learning, guidance and templates, and a resource repository of evidence-based strategies
      • Review of resource allocation  
    • Specialized support for CSI schools including
      • Guidance, professional learning, and technical assistance on data-driven instruction, high quality teaching, leadership, school culture, tutoring and remediation, and implementing redesigned school calendars
      • Additional supports and interventions, based on local needs and state capacity and resources
    • Support for CSI high schools including pilots of evidence-based practices, such as early warning dropout indicators, raising expectations for student course grades from “C” to “B” and bridging the transition from middle grades to high school
    • Support for TSI schools that do not exit TSI status including diagnostic audit of schools and districts to determine the highest leverage intervention points and to inform the school improvement plan’s drafting, implementation and monitoring
    • Support for CSI-R schools including identifying external partners to conduct reviews and needs assessments, at both the school and district levels, to determine why previous interventions failed

    Criteria for exiting this category

      After two years, schools can exit CSI status by:

      • Performing above the bottom 6 percent of Title I schools statewide, based on overall summative accountability score, and sustaining improvement for two consecutive years
      Targeted Support and Improvement

      How schools are identified

        • TSI schools, identified annually beginning in 2019-20: Any school with a “consistently underperforming” student subgroup that has performed at or below all students in schools in the bottom 6 percent statewide, and has not improved within three years
        • Additional TSI schools, identified every three years beginning in 2018-19: Any “low-performing” Title I school with a student subgroup that has performed at or below all students in schools in the bottom 6 percent statewide

        Interventions to meet improvement needs

          State will help local education agencies and their schools by providing:

          • General support for all TSI schools including
            • Network for district leadership teams
            • Needs assessment, root cause analysis and support with identifying evidence-based strategies
            • Approving and monitoring district school improvement plans
            • Differentiated technical assistance, such as on-site support, off-site, virtual and embedded professional learning, guidance and templates, and a resource repository of evidence-based strategies
            • Review of resource allocation
          • Tailored support for TSI schools including comprehensive diagnostic audit of schools and districts to determine the highest leverage intervention points and to inform the school improvement plan’s drafting, implementation and monitoring
          • Support for additional TSI schools including guidance, professional learning and technical assistance on data-driven instruction, high quality teaching, leadership, school culture, tutoring and remediation, and implementing redesigned school calendars

          Criteria for exiting this category

            After two years, schools can exit TSI status by:

            • Making progress towards closing achievement gaps for identified student subgroups, and sustaining improvement for two consecutive years
            Other categories of schools

            Schools not identified as CSI or TSI

              Identified annually beginning in 2018-19, all schools not identified as CSI or TSI will receive the following support from the state:

              • Online evidence-based resources and searchable library of school improvement research
              • Optional professional learning
              • Required annual needs assessment to determine if the school is effectively supporting the needs of all students

              This profile was prepared by Kim Anderson, SREB’s director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Mary Elizabeth Mira, SREB’s assistant director of benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards, Tiffany Harrison, SREB’s research associate for benchmarking college- and career-readiness standards and Jeff Gagné, SREB’s director of policy analysis. For more information, please contact Kim Anderson at kim.anderson@sreb.org or Jeff Gagné at jeff.gagne@sreb.org.