Alabama Chief Emphasizes Importance of Alabama Schools’ Culture, Climate

Alabama Chief Emphasizes Importance of Alabama Schools’ Culture, Climate

October 25, 2019

Even as educators across the state continue to celebrate Alabama’s high marks in the recent release of school report cards, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey is urging superintendents and education officials to look beyond the letter grades and see “what kind of improvement schools have shown over the past three years.” Specifically, Mackey sites “a measure of a school’s culture and climate, which means how students and teachers feel when they are at school” as lacking from current letter-grade evaluations. This focus has been critical to Pike County Superintendent Mark Bazzell as well, who has helped transform his rural school district “from one with multiple failing schools to one that is regularly visited by educators to see how change was made.” Bazzell credits the academic turnaround to “transforming the district’s culture.” Looking to next year, Mackey said he will form a new committee to consider possible changes to the report card to include additional measures of a school’s culture and climate—including, among other things, college and career-ready indicators, apprenticeship programs, and more. However, “because those indicators are part of federal accountability under the Every Student Succeeds Act, any changes would have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.”