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 February 10th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.
February 2022 Board Meeting
>Attendance: All members were present at the Board meeting except Governor Kay Ivey.
>Visual Art Exhibit: The Board passed a resolution recognizing the 2022 State Superintendent’s Visual Art Exhibit, and also recognized the Best of Show in the exhibit:
- Elementary Best of Show: Camille Duarte, Tuscaloosa Magnet School
- Secondary Best of Show: Emily Restad, Pike Road High School
>Celebrating in February and March: The Board recognized March 2022 as Arts Education Month in Alabama as well as March 7-11 as School Breakfast Week and February 7-11 as National School Counseling Week.
>Educator Prep Programs: The Board authorized a review of a Class B English Language Arts educator preparation program at Birmingham-Southern College. The Board approved a Class AA Elementary Education (K-6) educator preparation program at Jacksonville State University.
>English Language Arts Textbooks: The Board approved the recommendation of the State Textbook Committee for adoption of English Language Arts textbooks for grades 4-12, while taking no action (neither adopting nor rejecting) on adoption of textbooks for English Language Arts grades K-3.
- All members voted for the resolutions except Dr. Wayne Reynolds, who abstained on both.
- Some board members are concerned about only having one core reading program adopted on the K-3 list. 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 minimum 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.
- During the work session, Dr. McCarty asked what options local school boards have concerning ELA textbooks for K-3 students, considering that the Board took no action on adopting the recommendations of the state textbook committee at the Board meeting. Dr. Mackey says options are:
- If the district wants to use non-state funds (federal or local money), they can move forward immediately and purchase the materials of their choice.
- If the district wants to use state funds to purchase either Amplify CKLA or McGraw Hill Open Court (the two core reading programs recommended by the Literacy Task Force), they can use their local textbook committee process to choose one of them.
- The last option districts have is to wait on the ALSDE to issue a new Request for Proposal, which Dr. Mackey said might happen in 2023. He says it is best not to do it now because the results would be the same, and it is better to wait because many textbook companies want to get on board with the science of reading and might rewrite textbooks.
>Electronic Signatures & Records Policy: The Board adopted a new chapter of the Alabama Administrative Code regarding electronic signatures and records policy. The Board had previously announced their intent to adopt this change during the December Board meeting.
>School Facility Construction Approval Process: The Board announced intent to adopt a permanent rule change to the Alabama Administrative Code regarding approval of construction of school facilities, and adopted an amended emergency rule regarding the same. The Legislature passed a bill during the 2021 regular session that allowed school districts to make changes to school facilities costing under $500,000, or dealing with HVAC or roof repairs, without going through the Division of Construction Management. This change to the administrative code aligns with the new law.
- February being CTE month, there were multiple presentations to the Board from students in Tallassee FFA as well as students from Auburn High School and Beauregard High School in the Earn and Learn Health Sciences program.
- Dr. Mackey also highlighted March being Arts Education month and the students that participated in the State Superintendent’s Visual Arts Exhibit.
February 2022 Work Session
The work session agenda and packet are linked here.
>Classroom Management and Support: Dr. Marilyn Lewis, the ALSDE Prevention and Support Services Administrator, presented to the Board on Classroom Management and Support, where she spoke about best practices for addressing classroom disruption. This presentation was requested by board members, who have reported hearing more frequently from educators and school districts that are struggling to support students who are in their third year of disrupted learning due to COVID-19. Dr. Lewis shared professional development opportunities that the ALSDE offers to local school districts, like student mental health first aid, and specifically said that districts have to reach out in order to receive this support.
>ALSDE Personnel Updates: Dr. Brandon Payne, Interim Assistant Superintendent, presented updates related to ALSDE personnel, including new hires in the department, new training programs, and other actions taken to make the department processes more efficient. Key changes include adopting DocuSign to get signatures on state paperwork (rather than mailing them back and forth), using Perfect Forms to collect survey and registration data, and conducting an organizational review of the department to find out what changes can be made for more optimization.
>The Board discussed a resolution to extend approval of a Class B Visual Arts educator prep program at Spring Hill College.
>Administrative Code Updates: The Board discussed its intent to adopt two changes to the administrative code:
- Student Health Services: This administrative change deals with students who have seizures at school, and the training of personnel to administer emergency rescue medication.
- Extended Learning Opportunities: This change would add a completely new section to the administrative code that would lay out the policy surrounding private organizations offering credit bearing electives. The legislature passed a law during the 2021 Regular Legislative Session requiring the Board to do this.
>Board Member Questions: Most of the discussion today revolved around the legislative session and several large bills that have been filed in recent weeks.
- Numeracy Act: A number of Board members discussed their thoughts about the proposed Numeracy Act, Senate Bill 171. There were multiple concerns mentioned, including a lengthy discussion about the responsibilities of the State Board of Education versus the Legislature when it comes to public education. Several Board members mentioned the importance of working with the Legislature, to which Mrs. West and Dr. Richardson noted that they had reached out to members of the Legislature to attend their next Board Retreat, scheduled for March 30, 2022.
- Principal Certification: Dr. Cynthia McCarty asked about what principal certification and preparation programs are doing to prepare principals to be instructional leaders of their buildings. There was a great discussion about potential opportunities and incentives that could be provided for principals that go through instructional leadership professional development, like the LETRS training.
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.