Cullman City Schools receive ‘A’ grade in 2022 state report card

Despite pandemic, schools maintain high marks across city

(Cullman City Schools)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The 2022 Alabama Education Report Card is out, and Cullman City Schools scored an “A” overall, maintaining and reaching excellent achievement marks for 2022.  
Due to the pandemic and remote learning changes across the state during the time, there was no report cards released for the 2020 or 2021 school years. But even after the layover, and the effect of remote learning and the pandemic, Cullman City Schools maintained remarkably good scores. 
East Elementary School led the charge with a 94 grade, Cullman Middle School scored a 92 grade, West Elementary School and Cullman City Primary School scored a 91 grade, and Cullman High School scored an 86 grade. Those numbers made for an overall average of 91 for all schools combined, which would make for an “A” grade systemwide.  
Scores are derived from a combination of academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, college and career readiness, English language learning and absenteeism within the system. Some major tests factoring into the calculations clued the ACT for high school students, and ACAP scores for grades 2-8. 
“I’m not the biggest fan of measuring and reporting a school’s performance based on one assessment, but considering the amount of interruptions in instruction we faced over the past two years, I am extremely pleased with these scores,” superintendent Kyle Kallhoff said. “The Cullman City School System continues to score well above the state average in all tested categories. This release is a true testimony to the resilience of our students, teachers, and families.” 
East Elementary School Principal David Wiggins attributed the success at East to the school culture they’ve been able to develop and maintain, even despite the disruptions from the pandemic. 
“Our motto is, ‘Be excellent…every day in every way,’ and our students and our staff work towards that expectation daily. Teachers encourage, motivate, and support their students to be the best that they can be in all that they do; and, our faculty and staff are constantly striving to better themselves through high-quality professional development and opportunities for continuous learning,” he said. “Plus, our families value the work that we are doing, they support us, and they trust us to do what is best for their children. When you combine those variables and add the support that we receive from the community, you have a recipe for success.” 
West Elementary School Principal Jay Page echoed those sentiments, noting it was a team effort between teachers, school leaders, students and families: “We were able to have academic resources, a math coach, tutors, and an intervention teacher. The 2021-22 school year began with a Covid wave, but our students, faculty, and staff were able to rebound; we are extremely proud of the hard work and effort that this score represents. The emphasis on teaching and learning in Cullman City Schools is second to none.” 
Kallhoff noted chronic absenteeism did prove to be an issue district-wide, increasing just over 6 percent since the last state report card, but was shown to not be as severe as some systems statewide have been affected since the pandemic. 
“That definitely has an impact on academic achievement,” he explained. “Research consistently shows the importance of face to face instruction, and that’s something we have to continue working with all stakeholders to emphasize the importance of student attendance.” 
All five Cullman City Schools earned a perfect score in academic growth in both ELA/reading and math. The largest area of concern is in the area of ACT achievement, though Kallhoff noted he and the board will work with Cullman High administration to develop a plan to get those numbers up, too. 
This year’s report card is the first that is based off of the ACAP in grades 2-8. The last report card was calculated using the Scantron Performance Series as a summative assessment. The ACAP measures students’ achievement based on the Alabama Course of Study whereas the Scantron Performance Series is a computer adaptive assessment that predicts performance on state standards. The ACAP is a more rigorous instrument which incorporates an increase in application questions and fewer recall questions. 
Also of note, previous report cards only used the English/reading scores as a factor. The 2022 release includes writing in its ELA calculation. Also, on the mathematics portion of the ACT, the score used to determine proficiency increased on the 2022 release. The previous report card used the range of 17-24 on the ACT in mathematics to define proficiency; however, in the 2022 version the score range for proficiency in mathematics increased to 19-24. This two point increase had a tremendous impact in the area on academic achievement with high schools across Alabama.