MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Department of Education on Thursday released the first school report cards assigning letter grades to both schools and school systems for their performance.

The cards are the resulted of a 2012 state law, patterned after Florida’s school report cards, that requires A-F grades for schools and school systems. Federal law requires similar reports, so department officials said the information was consolidated in a single report card.

Twelve of the state’s 137 school systems received an A. Fifty-two received a B and 54 received a C. The remaining 19 got a D and no school systems received an F.

The grades are based not just on the latest test scores, but how much students improve in reading and math from one year to the next.

Department officials cautioned that the grades should be viewed as a “starting point” to show parents how schools are performing. The cards are also described as prototypes since the grading process is still being tweaked.

Rep. Terri Collins, who sponsored the 2012 law, said she is pleased the information is finally available to parents but disappointed that it took six years for the report cards to be developed.

Collins said she has heard feedback from parents that the grades are useful and promoting good discussion about how schools are doing.

Alabama Education Association President Sherry Tucker said there are multiple measures to determine how schools are doing.

“The success of our children cannot be defined by a letter grade,” Tucker said.

Local report cards can be viewed at http://bit.ly/2GFjVyW

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