Across the Board April 2021: Key Takeaways from the ALBOE Meeting

Recapping important education policy decisions for you

We’re continuing our monthly series dedicated to keeping you informed about key policy discussions and decisions made by the Alabama State Board of Education and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE). The Alabama State Board of Education meets on the second Thursday of each month to discuss important policies, procedures, and changes for Alabama’s K-12 public schools. The Board takes official action during their monthly Meeting and then follows up with a Work Session to get updates and discuss future action that will be voted on at the next board meeting. You can watch them live and see old meetings here

Here are our key takeaways from the April 8th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.  

April 2021 Board Meeting

>Board adopts completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as an Alabama graduation requirement

Following a public hearing that included multiple proponents and one opponent of the proposed policy, the board voted in favor of adopting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as a new requirement for graduation on a 6-3 vote. Click here to read more about the conversation from January’s work session discussion of this policy. Dr. Mackey shared his support of the policy and noted that it aligns with Governor Kay Ivey’s Alabama workforce goal of achieving 500,000 qualified workers by 2025. With this vote, Alabama becomes the fourth state to make FAFSA completion a graduation requirement and it will take effect in the 2021-2022 school year.

YES VOTES: Governor Kay Ivey (Board President), Tracie West (District 2), Dr. Yvette Richardson (District 4), Dr. Tonya Chestnut (District 5), Dr. Cynthia McCarty (District 6), and Belinda McRae (District 7).

NO VOTES: Board Vice President Jackie Ziegler (District 1), Stephanie Bell (District 3), and Dr. Wayne Reynolds (District 8).

>Board appoints Angela Martin as Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Shanthia Washington as Assistant Superintendent – Evaluation, Accountability, and Support

The board voted in favor of both appointments. Ms. Martin replaces Dr. Daniel Boyd, who is retiring. Ms. Washington returns from retirement to replace Ms. Martin in her former role. Dr. Mackey voiced his strong support for both individuals and stated that they would be able to step right in and get to work. Congratulations to both Ms. Martin and Ms. Washington, and we look forward to working with them. We also wish Dr. Boyd a happy retirement and a sincere thank you for all he has done for Alabama and our students.

>State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey shares updates on in-person learning

During his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Mackey shared that the majority of students in the state are now back attending school fully in-person.  Governor Ivey shared her satisfaction with the great progress Alabama has made in getting students back in school and talked about the need to prioritize incoming federal stimulus dollars on addressing learning loss and investing in literacy, numeracy, college and career readiness.

April 2021 Board Work Session Discussions

>Deputy State Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Daniel Boyd and State Education Administrator Sean Stevens share updates on the Alabama State Department of Education State Textbook Selection Process

Dr. Boyd and Mr. Stevens shared proposed updates to the state textbook adoption process. Click here to read more about the conversation on this topic from March’s work session. The goal is to provide more valuable information to districts on alignment and quality of textbooks and instructional materials.

Mr. Stevens shared that the current process focuses exclusively on alignment to the Alabama Course of Study (ALCOS) standards. As part of the more rigorous revised process, textbook committees will still rate alignment to the ALCOS but will also include a rating of alignment to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) framework as well as alignment to the new Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP), including ACT with Writing and ACT WorkKeys. The proposed process also includes ratings for classroom application, additional criteria for superior quality, and Open Educational Resources (OER).  Dr. Boyd noted that the proposed selection process narrows the number of textbooks that will be made available to districts but increases their quality. 

The proposed revisions also include updates to the state textbook committee’s rating scale. Currently, textbooks are rated 0 (Does not meet criterion), 1 (partially meets criterion, or 2 (Meets criterion). In the proposed revisions, the scale has been revised to include two additional rating levels (5 total), adding an “exceeds” rating as well as an “insufficient evidence” rating. 

>Deputy State Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Daniel Boyd provides an update on ALSDE guidance to districts regarding Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) federal funds

Dr. Boyd shared that ALSDE distributed a Road to Recovery toolkit to districts in mid-March. The toolkit includes the state application and guidance to districts for spending ESSER I and ESSER II funds and is inclusive of planning from June 2021-2023. Districts must submit their ESSER II Road to Recovery applications to the ALSDE by June 1, 2021.  Dr. Boyd also shared that they had not yet received detailed guidance from the U.S. Department of Education regarding $2 billion in ESSER III funds allocated to Alabama as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that was signed by President Biden on March 11th. You can read more about ARP’s impact on Alabama’s K-12 students here

>Board discusses resolution to approve recommendations for adoption of textbooks for Career and Technical Education clusters

Jennifer Crutchfield, Co-Secretary of the Alabama CTE State Textbook committee provided details to the board regarding the committee’s review process and recommendations. Board members will vote on the recommendations from the textbook committee at the May board meeting. 

>Board discusses the nominations for the Alabama Public Charter School Commission

The Public Charter School Commission is appointed by the State Board of Education from a pool of nominations made by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Each commissioner serves for 2 years. Governor Ivey currently has 3 commission seats that are up, and she presented the board with her nominations. For her first seat (currently held by Rebecca Lee-Gwin), Governor Ivey nominated Dr. Ty Moody (Hoover, AL), currently the Executive Director of CDF Freedom Schools, and Mr. Tevin Jones (Birmingham, AL), Chief of Staff to the City of Birmingham. For her second seat (currently held by Paul Morin), Governor Ivey renominated Mr. Paul Morin (Birmingham, AL), an education training consultant, and also Tracy Plummer (Marion Junction, AL), Deputy Director of the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. Finally, for her third seat (currently held by Sydney Raine), Governor Ivey renominated Mr. Sydney Raine (Mobile, AL), President of Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment (SWAPTE), and also nominated Dr. James Carter Sr. (Hoover, AL), retired Superintendent of Greene County Schools. The board will vote on these 3 commission seats at the May board meeting.

Contact Your Board Member:

Have feedback on any of the above items – or anything else? Contact your state school board member using the resources below:

-To contact your State Board of Education Member, click here.

-To find out which district you live and/or teach in, click here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter your address in the “Polling Place Search” box. Once entered, it will take you to a page that shows your polling place and the districts you live in.

-To view a map of the state school board districts, click here.