Across the Board October 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 October 14th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.

October 2021 Board Meeting

Click here to view the meeting agenda. 

>Attendance: All members were present except Dr. Cynthia McCarty.

>Public Hearing on Critical Race Theory: A public hearing was held to give the public a chance to speak on a permanent change to the administrative code regarding Critical Race Theory. Ten people spoke in opposition to the resolution, with no speakers appearing in support. Opponents to the permanent code change were concerned with the truthful telling of Alabama and United States history, and felt that the idea that students would feel guilt, anguish, or other negative emotions mentioned in the code was incorrect. Written comments were also accepted for the record. Click here to read our letter to the board concerning the resolution and code changes on Critical Race Theory.  Watch the public hearing here, beginning at timestamp 10:30. 

>Awards: Congratulations to all the Math and Science Presidential Award winners! The Board passed resolutions honoring all 11 students. See the full list of students here in the meeting’s agenda.  

>Recognitions: The Board passed resolutions in recognition of October as Dyslexia Awareness Month, Manufacturing Month, and Parent Engagement Month, as well as this week as School Lunch Week, and next week as Alabama School Bus Safety Week. 

>Educator Prep Program: The Board voted unanimously to authorize a review of the educator preparation program at the University of Alabama. Their college of education is starting two new STEM programs for teacher Class A and AA certification. 

>FY 2023 ETF Budget Request: The Board unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2023 budget request, which includes a $544 million increase for K-12 education. It now goes to Governor Ivey who will deliver her budget proposal to the Legislature in January. Click here to read out breakdown of the request.

>Administrative Code Change Regarding Foundation Program: The Board unanimously adopted a change to the administrative code that changes how Foundation Program funding is allocated to districts. Currently, districts are allocated state funding based on student enrollment, or average daily membership (ADM), from the previous school year. So, districts with quickly growing enrollment numbers have to fill in the gap with local funds until the ADM numbers catch up the next year. With this change, districts will receive state funding based on an estimate of their current enrollment that will be adjusted when actual numbers are released, meaning they don’t have to wait a year. This addresses a long-standing challenge, and the Legislature passed a law to make this change earlier this year.

>Administrative Code Change Regarding Critical Race Theory: Following the public hearing earlier in the meeting, the Board voted to make permanent the emergency Administrative Code change regarding Critical Race Theory they adopted last month. Coincidentally, this change also includes language to implement the lifting of the ban on yoga in K-12 schools passed by the Legislature earlier this year. The vote happened along racial and party lines, with Gov. Ivey, Dr. Reynolds, Ms. Bell, Ms. McRae, Ms. West, Ms. Ziegler voted in support of the resolution.  Dr. Chestnut and Dr. Richardson voted in opposition to the resolution. Watch the vote and comments from Drs. Chestnut, Richardson, and Reynolds beginning at timestamp 53:34 through 1:00:30.

>Charter School Commission Appointments: The Board voted on filling 3 seats on the Alabama Charter School Commission:  There was another tie vote for the nominees of Ms. Kate White and Ms. Julie Ann McCulley, who were nominated by Lt. Governor Ainsworth. Gov. Ivey, Mrs. McRae, Dr. Reynolds, Mrs. West voting for Ms. White and Dr. Richardson, Mrs. Ziegler, Dr. Chestnut, Mrs. Bell voting for Ms. McCulley.  Because of the tie, the vote will again be carried over until next month.

For the next open seat on the commission, there was a unanimous vote for Ms. Marla Green, current commissioner, over Ms. Jenny Ives, who were nominated by Speaker Mac McCutcheon.

For the last open seat on the commission, Ms. LaKeisha Wheeler was appointed with the support of Dr. Chestnut, Gov. Ivey, Mrs. McCrae, Dr. Reynolds, Dr. Richardson, with Ms. West and Mrs. Ziegler voting for Ms. Jessica Hammonds, and Mrs. Bell abstained. These appointments were also made by Speaker McCutcheon. 

>Superintendent’s Report: Dr. Mackey reported a delay last week due to a shortage of truck drivers to deliver food to school buildings. While there were still some delays this week, he shared that the situation had improved.

October 2021 Work Session

Click here to view the work session agenda.

> Presentation from Sonya Yates and the Dyslexia Advisory Council

Provided history of the Dyslexia Advisory Council following changes to the administrative code in 2015 that recognized dyslexia and the 2019 Alabama Literacy Act, which specifies interventions for dyslexia and screening. They also shared long term goals, which included advocating for the Education Trust Fund budget to include a dyslexia therapist as a foundation unit in every elementary school. One of the most important roles of the DAC is their development of the Dyslexia Resource Guide.The DAC’s presentation here

> Presentation from the Technical Advisory Committee regarding the Reading Subtest on ACAP

The presentation was led by Mrs. Maggie Hicks, Dr. Juan D’Brot, Dr. Scott Snyder, and representatives from DRC, the vendor that developed the ACAP exam. The TAC committee gave an update on their process to recommend the cut score on the reading sub-test of ACAP. 

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) presented three different options of cut scores for the Board to consider for the reading subtest of the ACAP assessment.  This cut score is the initial step in identifying which 3rd graders might be retained for further intervention. Those students would then go to summer reading camp, have the opportunity to get an acceptable score on a second reading assessment. If not, then a student reading portfolio would be used to assess whether the student meets minimum essential standards before being retained. Finally, there are good cause exemptions for some students. Click here to see a diagram explaining the process of student promotion to 4th grade. 

The TAC specifically recommended that the second option, with the cut score of 452, be adopted by the Board. If this would have been in place last year, then 23% of 3rd grade students would have been required to go through the process above.

  • Cut-Score Option 1: 469 (-1 Standard Error of Measurement (SEM)) If this is used, then 33% of students would be eligible for retention
  • Cut-Score Option 2: 452 (-2 SEM) If this is used, then 23% of students would be eligible for retention
  • Cut-Score Option 3: 435 (-3 SEM) If this is used, then 15% of students would be eligible for retention

The ALSDE also provided the same data for 2nd grade ACAP scores, which are this year’s 3rd graders and are the first group of students the retention portion applies to under the literacy act. 

  • Cut-Score Option 1: 464 (-1 SEM) – 31% of students eligible for retention
  • Cut-Score Option 2: 448 (-2 SEM) – 22% of students eligible for retention
  • Cut-Score Option 3: 432 (-3 SEM) – 14% of students eligible for retention

The Board plans to vote to set the reading cut score at their November meeting.

> The Board discussed the following resolutions and items that will be voted on at the next meeting:

  • Educator Preparation Institution Report Cards, the scores are based on both the passage rates of the PRAXIS, the PLT, or EdTPA, as well as survey data from teachers and principals. 
  • Dr. Mackey shared that Dr. Jim Purcell, the Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE), will present his research on teacher retention to the Board on November 1 through a WebEx. More information to come on this presentation.
  • Resolution honoring Mrs. Caroline Obert, Middle School Principal of the Year
  • Resolution honoring Mr. Ronald Pinson, High School Principal of the Year
  • Resolution honoring Ms. Amy Mason, 2021 National Association of Elementary School Principals National Distinguished Principal from Alabama
  • Resolution honoring Mr. Harland Drew Glass, Assistant Principal of the Year
  • Resolution honoring Mrs. Aqila Malpass, Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year
  • Resolution appointing Career and Technical Education Course of Study Committee
  • Resolution recognizing December 6-10 as Inclusive Schools Week
  • Resolution recognizing November as School Library Month

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.