News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Average test scores in a bottom-feeding state nothing to crow about

To The Daily: NBC’s assessment of Decatur having bad schools was overstated, but not by much.

School system results are the quality of education received by students. Scores on standardized tests best measure this quality objectively.

Nationally, Alabama is ranked near the bottom in such measurements. Yet, the administration and some board of education members proclaim they are excited when scores are at or near Alabama averages. Forgive me, but being at or near the averages of one of the worst-ranked states in the union is hardly reason for excitement. Embarrassment, yes. Excitement, never.

Being in the top 10 Alabama scores would justify some pride, but not being average in a bottom-feeding state. Decatur’s only Alabama top 10 is our historical dollars spent per pupil. Past results do not provide a rational return on our invested tax dollars.

In fairness, the International Baccalaureate program is a step forward, but it would have been nice to attract at least 20 students to its opportunity in the first two years. Now, there is a movement to recruit students from outside the district. Perhaps this revenue will justify the expenses of special training for teachers and other program expenses.

Additionally, we recognize Decatur had some incremental test score improvements. However, so has virtually the entire state. I believe quantum leaps in improvement can be achieved in three years or less by aggressively managing the entire system for excellence.

Instead, local key players have stated our schools are excellent so often they seem to actually believe it, despite the realities. Local pride is one thing. Distorting the truth is quite another.

It takes more than inflated declarations from those with vested interests to change the facts. It takes action. Give us Alabama top 10 test results matching our top 10 tax dollars per pupil.

Edward R. Ellison

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