Steps are already being taken to improve performance at three "failing" Tuscaloosa City Schools, superintendent Mike Daria said Monday.

The promise comes after the Alabama Department of Education released its list of schools in the state that scored in the lowest six percent on standardized tests last week. The list included three city schools -- Central Elementary, Westlawn Middle, and Paul W. Bryant High School -- and Holt High School in the Tuscaloosa County School System.

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TCSS Superintendent Keri Johnson outlined changes underway at Holt High Monday and Daria has done the same for the three TCS schools included on the list.

“While this is not information that we wanted to hear, it does not speak for the commitment of our teachers or the quality of work being done in those schools,” Daria said. “We have talented staff who are working hard with our children to ensure student success.”

Daria said at Central Elementary, only 10 percent of third-graders were reading proficiently in 2019 and this year, that number has risen to 50 percent. Westlawn has been named a state and national School of Character, Daria said, and at PWBHS, more students than ever are taking dual enrollment classes at local colleges.

“However, the Tuscaloosa City Schools still has work to do,” Daria said. “The last three years have been difficult, for every school system in America. Gaps in achievement that existed before the pandemic only widened between 2020 and 2022. We are committed to closing those gaps and are doubling down our efforts.”

Daria also noted that TCS has been sharply focused on improving reading proficiency in the system and the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program and ACT tests used to make the list include English and math assessments and showed "there is work that must be done in those areas."

Daria pledged intensive support to the three TCS schools on the list and additional math and English language instruction. He also said administrators will increase their focus on reversing a "trend of chronic absenteeism" to ensure all students are in school.

“Again, there is work that needs to be done, and this Alabama Accountability Act list makes that clear,” Daria added. “But there is already progress being made, and the Tuscaloosa City Schools is committed to doing the work needed to ensure the success of its students.

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