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 March 10th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.
March 2022 Board Meeting
All members were present except Gov. Ivey and Mrs. McRae.
>Teacher Prep: The Board unanimously passed a resolution to extend approval of the Class B Visual Arts (P-12) educator preparation program at Spring Hill College.
>Change to Administrative Code: The Board announced its intent to adopt a change to the Alabama Administrative Code, regarding health services for students who have seizures at school and the training of personnel to administer emergency medication.
- Read Across America day was Wednesday, March 2, 2022. Dee Bennett, Professor at Troy University in their Instructional Leadership and Administration program, presented on their literacy mascot and book series, “Short the Squirrel.”
March 2022 Work Session
>Educator Prep Program Approval: The Board discussed a resolution to approve the Class AA elementary educator preparation program at Jacksonville State University.
>Teacher Certification: Dr. Deanise Peacock, Educator Assessment Administrator at the ALSDE, presented to the Board on proposed changes to the current testing requirements for educators. These recommendations come from the Teacher Preparation and Certification Work Group to address the teacher shortage in Alabama. Dr. Peacock was joined by Dr. Marcia Smiley, Superintendent of Perry County Schools, who spoke about how the teacher shortage has affected her district, as well as Dr. Carolyn Corliss, Dean of Education at Huntingdon College. The workgroup produced two sets of recommendations:
1). For those seeking initial certification after completing an Alabama-approved Educator Prep program (All teaching fields except early childhood education (P-3), elementary education (K-6), or collaborative special education (K-6)):
- Not Required: Praxis Content Knowledge Assessments
- Required: Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), or Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) assessment in areas where edTPA is not available.
2). Early Childhood Education (P-3), Elementary Education (K-6), or Collaborative Special Education (K-6):
- Not Required: Praxis Content Knowledge Assessment
- Required: Foundational Reading Assessment (mandated by the Alabama Literacy Act)
3). For those seeking initial certification based on the alternative route (i.e., those not graduating from a traditional teacher prep program) that requires at least one year of teaching experience prior to applying for a Professional Educator Certificate (PEC):
- Not Required: edTPA or PLT
- Required: Content Knowledge requirement for issuance of the alternate certification may be met with one of the following: Praxis Content Knowledge Assessment OR Official transcript confirming academic major or equivalent (Bachelor’s degree or higher) in the specific teaching field.
>Foundations of Reading 190 Assessment: Dr. Peacock also presented on setting the passing score for the Pearson Foundations of Reading 190 assessment, which is given to pre-service educators before they enter the classroom. The Board switched to the Pearson exam from the Praxis Teaching Reading Elementary exam, as the Pearson test is a more accurate measure of whether pre-service teachers understand the science of reading, in accordance with the Alabama Literacy Act. The recommendation for the cut score was 233 out of 300. The change of tests will take effect on September 1, 2022. Read our March 2021 Across the Board to learn more about the switch.
>ELA Textbooks: The Board discussed a resolution to approve an addendum to the recommendations of the State Textbook Committee for English Language Arts, Grades 4-12. One supplemental material was mistakenly left off the list that was approved by the Board in February
>Board Member Questions:
- The Numeracy Act: Dr. Reynolds asked about the status of the proposed Numeracy Act, SB 171. Dr. Mackey informed the Board that the bill has passed the Senate and that a public hearing was held yesterday with the vote this morning, in which the bill passed out of the House Education Policy Committee. A+ Education Partnership supports the Numeracy Act. Click here to tell your representatives to vote for SB 171.
- ELL Students and Accountability: Dr. Mackey also addressed SB 170 by Senator Orr, which was on the House Floor on March 10. This bill would exclude test scores of English Learning students from school report card grades for 5 years after the student enters school, regardless of age. Dr. Mackey said that if the bill becomes law, it would require the ALSDE to publish 2 separate report cards to be compliant with federal and state law. Mrs. West asked what the cost of creating another report card would be, to which Dr. Mackey said it would be “upwards of half a million dollars.”
- Online Teacher Certification Portal: Several board members inquired about the new Online Teacher Certification Portal. Dr. Mackey shared that it is still in the testing phase and the department is working out problems as they arise.
- Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS): Dr. McCarty asked about MTSS, which is an evidence-based best practice of high-performing schools. Dr. Mackey shared that 8 districts have been going through a 5-year MTSS pilot, as well as one school in Montgomery. He also shared that the ALSDE will have an administrator that will oversee the implementation of it in all districts. Learn more about Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) here.
- Alabama Teacher Observation Program (ATOP): Dr. McCarty asked about the status of the ATOP. Dr. Mackey shared that ATOP is now the Alabama teacher Growth Program, which is the new observation tool to support teacher professional growth. Principals are intended to add on and individualize their evaluation system. Full implementation will start in Fall 2022, but testing of the program is happening right now. Previously, teacher observation programs required multiple evaluations in a year, every three years, but according to new federal law, every teacher must be evaluated every year, so only one evaluation session is required.
- Evaluation of Educator Prep Programs’ Reading Instruction: Dr. McCarty asked about the Barksdale Institute contract, which expires at the end of March, and their work to evaluate colleges of education and how well they educate pre-service teachers on the science of reading. Ms. Angela Martin of the ALSDE explained that the contract has been extended, and the Board will get a report of their findings at a later date. To learn more about the work of Barksdale Institute, click here.
- CALT Training: Certified Academic Language Therapists (CALTs) work with students who are struggling to learn how to read, usually students struggling with dyslexia. The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC), accredits training of programs for CALTs. Dr. McCarty asked if IMSLEC could be added to the list of organizations that can approve materials for dyslexia students, but it was stated that IMSLEC does not deal with curriculum. Dr. McCarty followed up to ask if the Board could specify in the Alabama Administrative Code that only IMSLEC accredited programs could lead to a CALT certification.