Montgomery Public Schools Supt. Speaks on "Failing Schools"


By Ashley Thompson

Montgomery County has 8 failing public schools, that's according to a list released by the state today.

Under the Alabama Accountability Act, a school is failing if their test scores were in the bottom six percent for at least three of the last six years. Several Montgomery County schools are now being labeled unsatisfactory.

Pamela Givens says she didn't expect to hear that her daughter's school, Southlawn Middle School, qualified as failing.

"This is very shocking for me to find that out," she says.

Other parents with children in failing schools say they weren't as surprised. Chauncey Blackburn has a son at Bellingrath Middle School.

"I'm not shocked because there's a tendency on this side of town, a lot of schools are failing."

Of the eight schools in Montgomery County listed as failing, six are middle schools. Superintendent Barbara Thompson says as a result, more emphasis will be put on 6th through 8th grade learning.

"We have students at the Middle School level that obviously, we need to do some different strategies to make sure they're learning."

Thompson says middle schools will begin doing a modified block and more project-based learning. But she says she doesn't believe the list of failing schools tells the whole story.

"Your child may be learning just fine and it may be one or two kids in that school that are impacting that score in a different way," she explains. "Maybe that one test isn't the best indication of whether a school is successful or not."

Under the Alabama Accountability Act, parents who move their children from failing public schools into private schools will get a 3500 dollar tax credit. Some parents say that isn't the answer to the failing schools in their neighborhoods.

"If your school is zoned for that area, as a parent or a guardian, go ahead and take care of the necessary precautions that you need," says Givens. "Don't withdraw because of certain things."

"Schools can have a chance to improve so it wouldn't be necessary for you to, because everyone can't afford to send their children to a private school," says parent Tamra Graham. "I know I cant, not right now."

"They could have the best books in front of them," says Blackburn. "If you don't make sure they read the book, you don't make sure they do the math, they're not going to do it."

There are 78 schools total listed as failing in Alabama. The majority of the schools listed are middle schools and in poorer areas.


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