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 May 12th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.
May Board Meeting
Click here to view the meeting agenda.
Attendance: All Board members were present except Governor Ivey.
2022 Teacher of the Year Awards:
- Congratulations to Alabama Teacher of the Year 2022-2023 Mr. Reggie White, Booker T. Washington K-8 School, Birmingham City School System!
- Congratulations to Alternate Alabama Teacher of the Year 2022-2023 Mr. William Edmonds, Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies, Mobile County School System!
- The Board passed a resolution commending the 2022-2023 District Teachers of the Year. Congratulations to all!
Other Award Recognitions:
- The Board commended the following principals for receiving awards at the 2022 Model Schools Conference, International Center for Leadership in Education:
- Mrs. Jaclyn Wright, Brewbaker Primary School, Montgomery County School System, Recipient for Transformation and Triumph in Closing the Reading Achievement Gap
- Dr. Teresha Jones-Hamilton (principal) and Dr. Tonya Crews (School Improvement and Turnaround Administrator), Central High School, Tuscaloosa City School System, Recipient for School Improvement
- Dr. Lucretia Prince, Crestmont Elementary School, Tuscaloosa County School System, Recipient for School Turnaround through a Thriving Culture and Building Relationships
- The Board passed a resolution commending Charles R. Drew Middle School, Talladega County School System, 2022 awardee for Alabama Green Ribbon Schools.
Teacher Recruitment Initiatives: The Board recognized Alabama’s “Grow Your Own” Initiative and “Future Teachers of Alabama” Organization.
Educator Prep Programs: the Board authorized review of the educator preparation programs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Montevallo.
Healthcare Workforce Task Force: The Board selected Dr. LaBrenda Marshall, Nurse Manager of the Alabama State Department of Education as its delegate to the Healthcare Workforce Task Force.
Administrative Code Changes: The Board adopted 2 changes to the Alabama Administrative Code:
- Amended Chapter 290-4-5, Pertaining to Student Health Services: This change relates to how students experiencing seizures can be treated at school.
- New Rule 290-3-1-.03, Pertaining to Extended Learning Opportunities: This new rule would allow students to earn credit from approved outside organizations that provide internships, apprenticeships, and other educational opportunities.
Deputy State Supt. of Administration and Finance: The Board approved Dr. Brandon T. Payne as Deputy State Superintendent of Administration and Finance. There was some discussion about Dr. Payne’s qualifications and the role of the Board in the hiring and releasing of the ALSDE personnel. Dr. Wayne Reynolds and Mrs. Stephanie Bell abstained.
- Secretary Cardona announced this morning the 58th class of Presidential Scholars, with 3 of them being from Alabama. Dr. Mackey said they will be recognized at a later date.
- Dr. Mackey provided an update on Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Completion. According to the National FAFSA tracker, we have about 53% of students that have completed the application, up 26% from last year. The number one county in the state for FAFSA completion is Lamar County; the number one improved county is Barbour County. About 60% of students are filling out FAFSA, with 40% of students completing the waiver. Mrs. Tracie West asked where people could find the code change referring to FAFSA completion (290-3-1-.02 item 21).
- Alabama’s Grow Our Own Initiative and the Future Teachers of Alabama from Columbia High School and Huntsville High School were presented to the Board.
May Work Session
Click here to view the work session agenda.
Praxis Score Updates: The Board considered a resolution that would modify the passing scores required for initial certification and program admission. Dr. Denise Peacock presented.
- Praxis middle school math test and Praxis secondary math test will no longer be available on Sept. 1, so have to be replaced. The recommended cut score for secondary math is 159 and 157 for middle school math.
Powerschool Implementation: The Board received an update from Ms. Angela Martin, Deputy Superintendent, and Ms. Stacy Royster, Program Coordinator of Statewide Student Information System Implementation, on PowerSchool.
- Ms. Royster has hosted 135 hours of meetings, including facilitating trainings and answering questions on PowerSchool implementation since beginning her role in January 2022.
Educator Prep Programs:
- The Board discussed extending approval of the educator preparation programs at the following schools:
- Alabama State University
- Athens State University
- Auburn University
- The University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of West Alabama
- Miles College
- The Board discussed authorizing a review of the educator preparation program at the University of Mobile.
CTE Textbook Committee: The Board considered appointees for the 2022-2023 State Textbook Committee for the following Career and Technical Education Clusters:
- Architecture and Construction
- Information Technology
- Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics
- The Board discussed a resolution that would recognize Andalusia High School (Andalusia City School System) for receiving the 2022 American College Application Campaign School of Excellence Award.
- The Board discussed a resolution naming Alabama’s Science of Reading Spotlight Schools. Dr. McCarty asked when board members would receive the reports on the Reading Spotlight Schools. Dr. Elizabeth Davis and Bonnie Short explained that the department is in the process of visiting the schools across the state with the highest growth and achievement in reading to identify and confirm the best schools to showcase. Reading Spotlight Schools will be places for other school and district leaders to visit and observe their impactful practices in action, with the goal of implementing them in their own schools and districts.
Administrative Code Changes: The Board discussed its intent to adopt a permanent change to the Alabama Administrative Code pertaining to school facilities and construction. The Board passed an emergency rule for the same at the February Board meeting (read February Across the Board here).
Board Member Questions:
Critical Race Theory: Several board members raised concerns about Critical Race Theory, prompting discussion about how to quell concerns in communities over the teaching of CRT.
- Several Board members reported receiving questions and concerns from constituents about the teaching of CRT in Alabama classrooms. Last August, the Board passed a resolution banning the teaching of CRT in K-12 classrooms. Multiple Board members expressed a desire to clearly define what CRT is and isn’t, but others mentioned the difficulty in doing such due to the various definitions of CRT and legal issues. Dr. Chestnut agreed there was confusion, stating that, “Black History is not CRT.”
FAFSA Graduation Requirement: Several board members raised questions to FAFSA.
- In April 2021, the State Board adopted a requirement for students to fill out the FAFSA in order to graduate. (For more info on this requirement, read April 2021 Across the Board here and this article from AL.com). Several Board members raised questions and concerns relating to the FAFSA following Dr. Mackey’s comments during the board meeting earlier in the day. Questions included requests for research on the student benefits of completing FAFSA, privacy concerns for parents, and possibility of blanket waivers, especially for districts with high populations of English Learners who may not qualify for federal aid.
Teacher Shortage: Dr. Chestnut asked why the board was delaying taking action on dealing with the teacher shortage, which prompted a lengthy discussion.
- Originally, the Board was set to discuss a resolution during today’s work session that would adjust testing requirements for new teachers, which was taken off of the agenda because several board members raised concerns about taking a short-term step without a long-term solution. Dr. Mackey mentioned that many groups have reached out to him citing concerns about suspending the Praxis and mentioned that he wants to reconvene the Teacher Shortage Task Force in June to explore all options.
Literacy: Dr. McCarty asked several questions about literacy, including updates on the Barksdale Reading Institute and the number of principals completing the LETRS Elementary Training.
- First up was a question about the Barksdale Reading Institute and when the board would see their final report on how well the science of reading is being taught in Alabama’s educator prep programs. Barksdale’s original contract was set to expire in March, but was extended to June. They will be meeting with the ALSDE and college deans on June 2nd to present the final report and then presenting to the SBOE during the June work session.
- Dr. McCarty also asked for the number of principals who have completed the LETRS Elementary Training by LEA, so that the SBOE could see if there was a wide distribution of these school leaders across the state. Bonnie Short, Alabama Reading Initiative Coordinator, shared that they are working on getting this number and that hopefully, this data would be available through PowerSchool. Dr. McCarty was encouraged that principals would now be eligible to receive the $1,000 stipend for completing this training.
ACAP Scores: Dr. McCarty asked when the Board and districts would be receiving ACAP scores.
- Dr. Mackey and Mrs. Angela Martin, Deputy Superintendent, shared that school districts would likely be receiving 2nd and 3rd grade reading scores next week to help them with decisions about summer reading camps. They also reported that it’s likely that schools will be receiving the rest of the ACAP scores in August, with the SBOE receiving a full report at the September work session. When DRC was selected to develop the ACAP assessment, part of the reason was their commitment to provide test results in a timely manner to allow for better use of the results in school decision-making. This continues to be a challenge.
Teacher Certification Portal: Dr. McCarty asked for an update on the online Teacher Certification Portal.
- Mrs. Angela Martin reported that the project to streamline the teacher certification process had experienced some issues due to the fact that Alabama Supercomputer Authority, which is hosting the website, is not allowed to hold personal identifiable information, which is a part of some of the forms candidates for teacher certification must fill out. They are still working to rectify this issue.
*We previously reported that LeanFrog was associated with the Teacher Certification Portal. However, the ALSDE’s work with LeanFrog was completed in 2019.
School Improvement Plans: Dr. McCarty asked if annual school improvement plans were required to be posted on the school district website.
- Mrs. Angela Martin, Deputy Superintendent, answered that while it is encouraged, it is not required. Mrs. Bell asked if the Board could make it a requirement. Dr. Mackey said he would look into if they could take that step, as Board members were very interested in providing transparency for this information.
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.