A+ Policy Agenda for 2017


Moving Alabama Toward a World-Class Education System

Alabama can have a world-class education system. But, in order to create it, we have to believe we’re capable of creating it and see a path forward.

 

Last August, the National Center for Education and the Economy published 9 Building Blocks for a World-Class Education System, distilling years of international research on high-performing education systems. The report lays out the beginnings of a blueprint for states that want to turn their education system into one of the best in the world.

 

As Alabamians, 9 Building Blocks provides the basis for a discussion about how to change the trajectory of our educational progress. With it we can create a path forward toward an educational system that ensures all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, graduate ready for real life after high school.

 

With this in mind, the 2017 A+ policy agenda considers each of the nine building blocks and identifies concrete steps A+ is taking toward creating a world-class education system. However, this work is statewide, includes numerous stakeholders, and cannot be accomplished by one organization alone. We encourage other organizations and individuals to identify their own contributions toward building a world-class education system in Alabama.


2017 A+ Education Partnership Policy Agenda

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  1. Create clear gateways for students through the system, set to global standards, with no dead ends.

    • Advance implementation and expand awareness of the six College and Career Readiness Indicators to encourage development of multiple pathways of success for students, whether they are going to college or straight into a career. This includes further expansion of Advanced Placement course offerings to students statewide. (A version of this point is also included under Building Block #7.)
    • Advocate for adoption of a common definition of remediation for all students entering post-secondary education in Alabama, whether two-year or four-year schools.
  2. Develop world-class, highly coherent instructional systems.

    • Protect and fully implement the College and Career Ready Standards.
    • Ensure Alabama employs high-quality, aligned assessments that allow for year-over-year analysis of students’ performance.
    • Support development of strategic plans for math, science, technology and reading education to improve instruction across Alabama.
  3. Provide more resources for at-risk students than for others.

    • Advocate for improvement of Alabama’s school funding formula by shifting to a weighted, per pupil-based formula.
    • Promote after-school and summer-learning programs to increase learning time and opportunities for at-risk students and foster innovation in school systems.
    • Support efforts to improve wrap-around services for students in Alabama schools, including but not limited to law enforcement, social workers, guidance counselors, and mental health providers.
    • Support efforts to expand high-speed wireless Internet connectivity in schools through adoption of the WIRED plan for improved infrastructure across Alabama.
  4. Provide strong supports for children and their families before students arrive at school.

    • Advocate for expansion of state-funded high-quality First Class pre-k classrooms to increase the number of students entering school ready to learn.
    • Launch a statewide grade-level reading campaign to increase support for students reading on grade-level by third grade.
  5. Assure an abundant supply of highly qualified teachers.

    • Advocate for policies and support initiatives that recruit, foster, and support talent among teachers. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Raising standards for recruitment and admission to, and graduation from, teacher preparation programs.
    • Providing financial incentives for teachers who commit to work in hard-to-staff schools and high-need fields.
    • Creating financial incentives for schools that achieve improved high-level student results.
  6. Redesign schools to be places in which teachers will be treated as professionals, with incentives and support to continuously improve their professional practice and the performance of their students.

    • Support implementation in all school systems a teacher evaluation system that includes measures of student performance, encourages professional growth, and can ultimately inform employment decisions. These evaluations should be accompanied by support for improving effectiveness for teachers entering and continuing in the field, including mentors for new teachers.
    • Advocate for the creation of professional pathways and school staffing models that allow educators to grow professionally while remaining in teaching roles.
    • Foster innovation in education through support of flexibility waivers and creation of public charter schools that experiment with what works best for students.
  7. Create an effective system of career and technical education and training.

    • Advance implementation—and expand awareness of—the six College and Career Readiness Indicators to encourage development of multiple pathways of success for students, whether they are going to college or straight into a career. This includes expanding opportunities for industry certification. (A version of this point is also included under Building Block #4.)
  8. Create a leadership development system that develops leaders at all levels to manage such systems effectively.

    • Support efforts to identify, recruit, train, and support school leaders.
  9. Institute a governance system that has the authority and legitimacy to develop coherent, powerful policies and is capable of implementing them at scale.

    • Collaborate with other stakeholders to create a State Longitudinal Data System and support other means of improving transparency and data-driven policymaking in Alabama’s education and workforce systems.
    • Support efforts to improve schools and systems’ academic performance through intervention by the Alabama State Department of Education.
    • Support a return to performance-based state budgeting, as endorsed by PARCA.
    • Increase transparency of the state’s education system. This includes:
    • Creating and disseminating Alabama Public Education at a Glance, and promoting PARCA’s district-level data analysis.
    • Advocating for improved data transparency around performance of students who attend private schools with the help of tax credits and scholarships.