Last Thursday was the conclusion of the 2022 Legislative Session and the final year of this quadrennium, which means legislators have headed home to campaign and implementation of the laws they have passed will soon be underway.
This was a big session for education. With the passage of the record-breaking $8.26 billion Education Trust Fund budget and the Alabama Numeracy Act, legislators have demonstrated a commitment to improve education for Alabama students.
Here is a rundown of what passed and what didn’t pass this session:
Education Trust Fund Budget
- The $8.26 billion FY 2023 Education Trust Fund Budget includes the following new investments. To read our full summary of the budget, click here. Some highlights:
- A 4% teacher pay raise for all teachers along with a revised salary matrix that increases pay for more experienced teachers up to 21% is included.
- Increases to support the Alabama Literacy Act and the new Alabama Numeracy Act
- An increase for Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program to increase serve up to 45% of 4-year-olds
- A new $1.5 million grant program to pilot partnerships to expand high-quality community-based summer and afterschool programs
Bills That Passed
The Alabama Numeracy Act (SB 171, Sen. Arthur Orr): This legislation provides a statewide, comprehensive plan to improve math achievement for all students by providing math coaches in all K-5 schools, high-quality training for principals and teachers, better-aligned instructional materials, interventions for struggling students, and more. To read our full summary of this law, click here.
Updates to the Alabama Literacy Act (HB 220, Rep. Terri Collins and SB 200, Sen. Rodger Smitherman): Under SB 200, the retention component of the law will be delayed by two years and will now go into effect during the 2023-2024 school year. HB 220 makes a variety of technical changes to clarify and improve the implementation of the law. As part of this, the following changes to retention and good cause exemptions were made: 1) that students may only be made to repeat the third grade once 2) exempting special education students who don’t take standardized tests from retention, 3) Clarifying that students and an IEP and 504 plan and a reading deficiency that have received two years of intensive intervention or been retained before are exempt, and 4) that students learning the English language have 3 years post-enrollment (it is currently 2 years) before they are subject to the retention requirements.
Updates to Tier II Retirement (HB 134, Rep. Alan Baker): Aims to remove the disparity between teachers locked into Tier I retirement and those in Tier II retirement. Click here to read an overview of the changes from al.com’s Education Lab.
Textbooks and High-Quality Instructional Materials (SB 15, Sen. Tim Melson): Makes changes to Alabama’s textbook adoption process to support the selection and implementation of high-quality curriculum in all classrooms.
Mental Health Coordinators in Every School District (HB 123, Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter): As the result of a multi-year effort, the state provided funding in the FY 2023 education budget for a mental health coordinator in every school district. This bill puts this effort to expand access to student mental health support for students into law, requiring every district to employ a coordinator.
Transgender Bathroom Bill with “Don’t Say Gay” Amendment (HB 322, Rep. Scott Stadthagen): HB 322 bans the use of bathrooms and locker rooms that do not align with a child’s sex, regardless of the child’s gender identity, along with an amendment that bans discussions in the classroom about sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through fifth grade. To read more about this law, click here for a recap from the Montgomery Advertiser.
Bills that didn’t pass
Workforce (HB 241, Rep. Terri Collins): To build strong “classroom to career” pathways, HB 241 would create a credential registry to ensure programs are preparing students for in-demand jobs, institute a credential review process to ensure quality and real-world application, and require students to earn one or more college and career readiness indicators before graduation. In addition, it would improve our data infrastructure to help state leaders spend taxpayer money wisely and identify which investments in the classroom to career pathway are making an impact on student outcomes and which are not.
Equitable Funding for Public Charter Schools: (SB 302, Sen. Del Marsh & HB 459, Rep. Terri Collins): Would amend the public charter school law to provide more equitable funding for the students that attend them. Currently, when a student chooses to move from a traditional public school to a public charter school, state and federal dollars follow that child to the school that is teaching them. This bill would also allow a portion of local county dollars to follow the child to the charter school.
First Grade Readiness (HB 331, Rep. Pebblin Warren): Would help ensure all Alabama students are ready for first grade by requiring students who did not complete Kindergarten to pass a readiness assessment prior to entering first grade
Divisive Concepts: (HB 312, Rep. Ed Oliver): Would ban any discussion in the classroom that would qualify as a “divisive concept” including race, gender, and religion. Click here to read an overview of the bill – and others like it that were filed this session – from al.com’s Education Lab.