By Associated Press - Sunday, January 1, 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama parents can now view report cards for their child’s school and school system.

The Alabama Department of Education in December released the report cards. The cards give scores in four areas: learning gains; student achievement, local indicators and the graduation rate for high schools. Parents can see how their school, or school system, compares to the rest of the state.

“This information is being provided so parents will have the opportunity to review unfiltered school and district performance,” said Michael Sentance, newly appointed state superintendent of education, in a statement. “Information such as this should promote further conversations with school and district leadership about the current status of the education program and the plans to improve.”

The report cards were in development for more than four years, but don’t yet include the A-F letter grades that lawmakers mandated. The state will add overall letter grades in December of 2017.

Alabama legislators followed in the footsteps of Florida and others states when they approved legislation in 2012 requiring that schools be graded on an A-F scale.

Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the 2012 report card law, said she was disappointed that it took so long to get the report cards ready, but she is pleased that the information is finally available to parents.

“It tells parents how well their school is doing. It’s not just achievement, it’s growth,” Collins, R-Decatur, said.

Some members of the board of education had expressed concern over the assignment of grades, expressing concern that they will unfairly stigmatize high-poverty schools that typically struggle. Sentance has said his personal preference is to give parents the raw information, without a subjective grade, but said the department will follow the law that calls for the letter grades.

Collins said she is adamant that the A-F letter grades get assigned next year as lawmakers intended.

“Everyone knows what the grades mean,” Collins said. “I just think it holds us more accountable, and I think our children are worth it.”

The report cards can be viewed at:

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