State Board Elects New Officers: Reports on Plan 2020

The Alabama State Board of Education (SBOE) elected new leadership for the upcoming year at its July 10th meeting, and the Alabama Department of Education (ALSDE) staff presented its Plan 2020 action steps, which will ensure that Alabama students are well-prepared for college and/or career.

Stephanie Bell (R) was elected Vice President for the upcoming year, and Randy McKinney handed over the gavel with congratulations and good wishes. Bell presided over the remainder of Tuesday’s meeting. Ella Bell (D) was elected President Pro Tem, and will preside in Stephanie Bell’s absence. The Governor officially serves as President.

Both members are up for reelection this November but have no opposition. (See Montgomery Advertiser article for more details.)

NCLB Mandates Frozen
State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice announced that the state of Alabama is among those receiving approval to ‘freeze’ the mandated accountability measures in the No Child Left Behind law. (See the accompanying A+ story for more.)

Joint Collaboration Announcement
Although not on the agenda, Dr. Bice and Susan Price, Interim Chancellor of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, presented a “new commitment” between K-12 and college/career tech.

“This partnership supports our Plan 2020 vision,” said Dr. Bice, “and strengthens our ability to make Every Child a Graduate — Every Graduate Prepared for College/Work/Adulthood in the 21st Century. He explained that through the development of a joint plan for student success, the leaders resolve to create a seamless transition for students from high school to college.

The resolution between the two entities includes a commitment to forming teams to improve and streamline communications, holding monthly meetings, sharing facilities and resources, and identifying and leveraging best practices to expand successes. It also outlines joint efforts in articulation, professional development, credentialing, and teacher recruitment and retention efforts.

This long-term commitment to jointly support college and career-readiness is an example of the meaningful partnerships more Alabama education stakeholders and providers can form, which could positively impact student achievement. A+ Education Partnership is preparing a policy brief which, based on research and successful strategies, outlines a multi-agency collaboration plan for Alabama’s educational spectrum. The concept is to build a strong bridge of support services from pre-k to the workforce so that every Alabama child has a clear and firm path toward achieving their highest potential. Preliminarily called the Education Investment Council, this alliance in Alabama would bring all educational stakeholders and providers to one table for common dialogue, problem-solving and collaborative strategies. The P-20 policy brief will be published prior to the next legislative session.

Plan 2020 Strategy
During the SBOE Work Session that followed, ALSDE staffers Dr. Julie Hannah, Office of Student Learning, and Dr. Tony Thacker, Research and Development, presented the strategic planning process to support Plan 2020, which Dr. Bice described as “putting the focus on the performance of ‘grown people.’” Professional development and ongoing support of educators is a primary focus in the plan, which outlined six strategies:

  1. Differentiated support — customizing support for systems with different needs
  2. College and career-ready standards rollout — developing one process to rollout new curriculums so systems know what to expect, starting with the new math and English arts standards
  3. Response to Instruction — focusing on effective teaching including “just in time intervention,” based on specific student needs
  4. Career/workforce development — ensuring that all students are well-prepared for college and/or career, as exemplified by the strengthened partnership with postsecondary education
  5. Advanced Placement — scaling the program so that all Alabama students have the access and opportunity to take AP courses
  6. Aligned Assessments — focusing more on formative assessments that can guide improvements in instruction

A+ College Ready was mentioned in the report as a “big part” of the AP strategy, and board member Charles Elliott commented that A+CR does a great job identifying and supporting students in at-risk schools that are capable of AP success.

Dr. Bice also referred to the move from ‘reading coaches’ to the Instructional Partners model, in order to provide differentiated support more efficiently and effectively. Using regional planning teams and regional support staff, the state can better assess specific needs at every school and utilize the appropriate resources more deliberately. The Alabama Best Practices Center is a partner with the SDE in this work.

Click here for a more detailed report on the SBOE meeting and work session activities, published by T.P. Craine on the blog.