Across the Board January 2022: 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 January 13th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.

January 2022 Board Meeting

>Attendance: All board members were present except Dr. Wayne Reynolds & Dr. Cynthia McCarty. .

>Congratulations to Mrs. Rebecca Cornelius for being honored as the “Barbara Fannin Memorial Employee of the Quarter” for January through March 2022!

>Celebrating in January: The Board unanimously passed a resolution recognizing January 2022 as Gifted Education Month in Alabama Schools, and February 2022 as Alabama Career and Technical Education Month. Governor Ivey also brought a resolution proclaiming both the above. 

>Approval of Educator Prep Program: The Board extended approval of the Class B Health Education and Physical Education Educator Preparation Program at Jacksonville State University.

>Career Technical Education: The Board passed a resolution to adopt the Career and Technical Education State Course of Study for the following Career and Technical Education Clusters: Architecture and Construction, Information Technology, and Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics.

>Career Technical Education Textbooks: The Board passed a resolution to approve the textbooks recommended by the state textbook committee for the following Career and Technical Education Clusters: Business Management and Administration, Finance, Marketing, Manufacturing, and Work-Based Learning.

>The Board unanimously appointed Mr. Nelvin Short and Ms. Lori Lein to the Board of Trustees for the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

>Superintendent’s Report:

  • Dr. Mackey announced that Site Selection Magazine named Alabama #6 as a place to open new businesses and #5 in workforce development programs in schools. 
  • He also shared that the National Computer Science Teachers Association named Alabama the sixth state in the nation for our expansion of computer science education. To read more about why computer science education is important for Alabama students, visit our new A+ Policy Portal, linked here.
  • Dr. Mackey shared an overview of how the ALSDE’s legislative priorities & budget requests fit together. Most of these updates were covered in his budget hearing, which took place this past Tuesday. To read more about his presentation, read our “Budget Watch” blog series here. Additionally, Dr. Mackey shared the department’s plan for addressing the teacher shortage, including ten changes to teacher certification that he rolled out to Superintendents this week, linked here. In addition, the ALSDE will be rolling out a new online teacher certification portal in the upcoming year.

January 2022 Work Session

The work session agenda and packet is linked here.

The Board discussed the following bills that the legislature is expected to take action on during the 2022 Regular Legislative Session: 

  • Textbook Bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Tim Melson – Multiple board members expressed support for removing the requirement for new materials to be no more than three years old, so that more textbooks are able to be vetted and approved. In addition, multiple board members requested adding a stipend for textbook committee members to recognize the hard work that goes into the textbook review process. There were also many suggestions raised to increase transparency and communication about the textbooks selection process with all stakeholders, especially local districts and families. To read more about the importance of high quality instructional materials and A+’s recommendations, visit A+ Policy Portal here
  • Adjustments to the Course of Study Law – Dr. McCarty previously raised concerns about paying Course of Study committees. Currently, members are paid a per diem, which may not be enough to cover costs associated with traveling to Montgomery. Dr. Mackey said the Department will find out if they can directly reimburse Course of Study committee members without having it put into law. 
  • First Grade Readiness Bill (often referred to as the Kindergarten Bill), likely sponsored by Rep. Peblin Warren – This bill was filed in the 2021 Legislative Session, but has not yet been filed for this session. To read the 2021 bill, click here

>Math Strategy for Student Achievement – The Board discussed the department’s strategy for math and their responses to a potential math bill during the legislative session. Dr. Mackey mentioned that he had spoken with Sen. Arthur Orr, who will be filing the bill in the next few weeks. Board Members reiterated their desire to be proactive on this issue. 

>Educator Prep Programs: 

  • The Board discussed authorizing a review of the Class B English Language Arts  Educator Preparation Program  for grades 6-12 at Birmingham-Southern College. 
  • The Board discussed a resolution to approve the Class AA Elementary Education Educator Preparation Program at Jacksonville State University.

>Administrative Code Changes for Facilities – The Board discussed emergency and permanent changes to the Alabama Administrative code that would affect new construction or renovations of school facilities over $500,000 (not including maintenance or repair of HVAC or roofing).

>ELA Textbook Adoption – The Board continued discussions of English Language Arts (ELA) Textbook Adoption from the last Board work session. Jessica Sanders, Associate General Counsel and Government Relations for the ALSDE, outlined the textbook adoption process for ELA. As required by the Literacy Act, the Literacy Task Force reviewed approximately 15 submissions for core reading programs that aligned to the science of reading and met the requirements of the Alabama Literacy Act. Only two core reading programs met those requirements and were recommended by the Literacy Task Force to the ELA Textbook Committee to be included in the ELA textbook adoption. However, one of the recommended programs wasn’t able to be included in the ELA textbook process because it was one year too old to be considered. Therefore, the ELA textbook committee is recommending the one remaining program that meets the requirements of the Literacy Act. Some board members are concerned about only having one core reading program adopted on the K-3 list. Therefore, the SBOE is considering several options prior to their February meeting, which they will discuss further at their Board Retreat on Wednesday, January 26:

    • Move forward and approve the recommendations from the ELA textbook committee, with one textbook option for ELA K-3. 
    • Move forward and approve the recommendations for 4th-12th grades from the ELA textbook committee and ask the ALSDE to discuss and potentially have textbook publishers submit bids for K-3 textbooks again.
    • Move forward and approve the recommendations from the ELA textbook committee, with one textbook option for ELA K-3, with a caveat that they will immediately have textbook publishers submit bids for K-3 textbooks again.

>Visual Arts Exhibits –

  • The Board will recognize Best of Show in the Visual Arts Exhibit for both Elementary and Secondary Divisions. 
  • The Board discussed a resolution recognizing the 2022 Annual State Superintendent’s Visual Arts Exhibit.

>Other Resolutions – The Board discussed resolutions that would recognize February 7-11 as National School Counseling Week, March 7-11 as School Breakfast Week, and March 2022 as Arts Education Month in Alabama Schools.>

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.