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 usually meets on the second Thursday of each month, with the exception of the July meeting, 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 July 12th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.
12th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.
July 2022 Board Meeting
Every July, the Board has its annual meeting required by the Alabama Constitution where they elect officers.
Today, the Board unanimously elected Dr. Wayne Reynolds as Vice President, who will preside when the Governor is not present at meetings. He replaces Dr. Yvette Richardson. Mrs. Tracie West was also elected President Pro Tempore. Mrs. Stephanie Bell abstained on both votes.
Also on today’s agenda:
- Congratulations to Ms. Kaitlin McPeake of Rocky Ridge Elementary School, Hoover City School System, and Ms. Kelsey Cooper of Discovery Middle School, Madison City School System, for being recognized as Milken Educator Award recipients!
- Congratulations to Alabama’s 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars!
- Congratulations to Mr. Chad Langston on being selected as the Barbara Fannin Memorial Employee of the Quarter for July-September 2022!
Educator Prep Programs: The Board voted to authorize review of the educator preparation program at Spring Hill College. The Board also voted to extend approval of educator prep programs at the following schools:
- Alabama A&M University
- Alabama State University
- Athens State University
- Auburn University
- University of Alabama at Birmingham
- University of West Alabama
- Miles College
For Elementary, Early Childhood, and Special Education (K-6) programs at these institutions, approval will only be extended for 18 months, until December 2023, following the presentation by Dr. Kelly Butler of the Barksdale Institute at the June Board meeting. The Alabama Literacy Act requires educator prep programs to teach 9 hours in the Science of Reading (SoR) but it was found that only 23% of educator prep programs in Alabama were aligned to the SoR (click here to see the rest of the data from this report). The extension of the approval for these programs will give them time to make improvements to be fully aligned before the Board reconsiders their approval. Dr. Butler plans to attend the September work session to have a full discussion about the report. In the Alabama Literacy Act, all public institutions of higher education were required to teach 9 hours of coursework aligned to the science of reading and participate in the review by the Barksdale Institute or risk losing $1 million of funding from the ETF budget. Dr. Mackey reported that all public IHEs are in compliance and therefore won’t lose this funding.
Teacher Certification Requirements: The Board passed a resolution (7-1 with Mrs. Stephanie Bell voting no) that would change the current testing requirements for teachers to become certified beginning this fall. For candidates that attended an approved Alabama educator prep program, there would be 3 pathways to earning a Professional Educator Certificate:
- Option 1 (current law): Passing the Praxis exams with the required score
- Option 2: Scoring -1 Standard Error of Measurement (SEM) on the Praxis exam with a Teaching Field GPA of 2.75 (increased from the current GPA requirement of 2.5)
Option 3: Scoring -1 SEM on the Praxis exam without a Teaching Field GPA of 2.75, but either
- Achieves required Praxis scores within 3 years OR
- Completes 100 hours of ALSDE-approved high-quality professional development or micro-credential in their certificate area
For Options 2 and 3, the Board unanimously amended the resolution to add a sunset clause that would require a review after 2 years (June 30, 2024) to determine if the change in policy was having the desired effect of increasing the pool of new teachers while maintaining quality.
If Options 2 & 3 would have been in place, there were approximately 1,183 prospective teachers who would have qualified for Professional Educator Certificate in 2019-2020.
For candidates from Alternative teacher prep programs:
- Individuals with an Alternative Certificate can earn a Professional Educator Certificate by passing the Praxis subject area exam and then successfully completing the edTPA or passing Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching in 3 years
Individuals scoring within -1 SEM on the Praxis subject area exam can:
- Earn an Alternative Certificate by having at least 15 semester hours of coursework in the content area to be taught
- Earn a Professional Educator Certificate by completing the edTPA or passing Praxis Principles of Learning and Teaching in 3 years
One public speaker spoke in favor of this resolution on behalf of himself and other college students who are candidates to become teachers but have been unable to pass the Praxis exam. For more details on the new teacher pathways, click here.
Extraordinary Critical Need Staffing Waiver: On a 7-1 vote (Bell voted no), the Board adopted a resolution creating an Extraordinary Critical Need Staffing Waiver. In districts that are experiencing extreme staffing shortages, there would be an option for superintendents to hire candidates that score -2 SEM on the Praxis exam. Candidates would receive a temporary, one-year, non-professional certificate that can be renewed twice. To gain a permanent certificate, the candidate would have to:
- Raise their Praxis score OR
- Complete 150 hours of ALSDE approved high-quality professional development or microcredentials in their certificate area.
Extended Learning Code Change: The Board adopted a change to the administrative code regarding extended learning opportunities with 7 yeas and 1 abstention from Mrs. Tracie West (see code change here). Dr. Mackey confirmed that any new extended learning opportunities wouldn’t be able replicate or replace any opportunities currently available.
Administrative Code Changes: The Board announced its intent to adopt the following changes to the administrative code. Read more about these changes in our June ATB blog post here. The Board will vote to permanently adopt them after a 45 day public comment period:
- Pertaining to Local Mechanic Certification
- Pertaining to Annual Apportionment of Foundation Program Funds
- Pertaining to Certain Teaching Techniques- This is the change to the administrative code that will codify the legislation passed in April that banned the discussion or instruction of sexual orientation or gender identification in grades K-5. This passed with 7 affirmative votes.
- Pertaining to Alternative Teacher Preparation Organizations- This passed with 5 affirmative votes and three abstentions from Ziegler, West, & Bell.
- Pertaining to Mental Health Service Coordinators- 7 affirmative votes, 1 no (Bell).
- Janet Godwin, CEO of ACT Corporation & Dr. Tony Thacker, Alabama State Representative to ACT,came to present the SBOE with the ACT College & Career Champion Award. This is an inaugural award recognizing our state among the 22 states that give ACT to all 11th graders.
- Waymond Jackson, CEO of EdFarm, a non-profit that teaches computer coding, presented their first EdFarm space at South Hampton K-8 school.
July Work Session
College and Career Readiness Graduation Requirements: Dr. Mackey led a discussion on requiring students to earn a College & Career Readiness (CCR) indicator in order to graduate high school. If the SBOE voted to accept this change, it would be for the upcoming school year’s 8th graders who would graduate in 2027-2028, so that schools would have an opportunity to prepare for this transition. Currently, Alabama has a 15 point gap between the average CCR of 76% and the graduation rate of 92%, with some high schools with CCR rates as low as 40%. To learn more, check out PARCA’s work on Alabama’s CCR & graduation rate gap here. Here are the current College & Career Readiness indicators that students can earn:
- Earning a benchmark score in one of the areas of the ACT
- Earning a qualifying score of 3 or more on an AP exam
- Earning a qualifying score on an IB exam
- Earning a dual enrollment credit
- Earning a silver or gold or the ACT WorkKeys exam (about 37% of CCR are this)
- Completing an in-school apprenticeship (Required to be 18 to participate in apprenticeship.)
- Earning a Career Tech Industry Credential (4,000 credentials available in Alabama)
- Being accepted into the military before graduation
- Earning a Career Tech Completer status, by taking one Foundations course in a career tech field, intermediate course in that field, and an additional course like a capstone project.
- Any additional CCR indicator approved by the SBOE
There will be an additional clause to exempt students with IEPs who may have alternate graduation requirement.
Dr. McCarty requested a report with data on what schools offer which CCR programs, AP classes, and ACCESS classes are offered, as well as the program costs for students. Several SBOE members expressed that they wanted a better understanding of what schools are offering before they require students to earn one of these credentials to graduate.
A+ College Ready, which is offered to all Alabama middle and high schools through a public-private partnership with the state, trains teachers to use rigorous curricula to prepare all students to successfully complete AP classes. To learn more about A+ College Ready’s work, click here.
It was decided that Dr. Hull would come and present to Board members at next month’s Board meeting, and that voting on the change to graduation requirements would happen after more discussion (September at the earliest).
Electronic Board Packets: Dr. Mackey has asked the procurement team to look into software for electronic board packets. Dr. Brandon Payne and Jason Swann updated the Board that a purchase order was placed this morning for devices and Simbli software, which is the platform that the ALSDE will provide board packets. Devices and software could be ready for Board members as early as the September Board meeting, and members would be able to opt out and still use paper packets.
SBOE Meetings: This change allows for the State Board to meet by electronic means, but this would require a quorum to meet in person. It also adds a “Board Member Report” to the official board meeting agenda, which would allow for Board Members to share updates. This was requested by Dr. Reynolds. Most members were interested in delaying this for more discussion.
- The Board discussed a resolution commending Ms. Christy Mead, Albertville City School System, for receiving the 2022 Robert L. Morton Award. Charter school nominations will be added to the August work session agenda.
Board Member Questions:
- Dr. Mackey shared that ACAP scores are in the process of being verified by school district leaders and that State Board members would be receiving unverified ACAP data for all subjects today. Once these data are verified, ACAP scores will be released to the public. The ACAP Reading subsection scores for K-3 students were made public via a press release from the ALSDE today. Read it and access scores by school level here.
- Mrs. Tracie West asked about the upcoming budget and process. Dr. Mackey said that they are required to get their budget request to the Governor’s Director of Finance by November 1, so it is planned to be discussed at the August work session.
- Dr. McCarty requested that the next time that the ALSDE has an audit, that the auditors present to the entire board about the process. She was surprised by the 2013-2019 audit report, which was published on June 24 and delivered to her through email, and she had no idea about the process. To read through the report, click here.
- Dr. McCarty also asked about how the changes in the state procurement law is going to affect the ALSDE. Dr. Mackey shared that staff are signed up for a training to learn more about this and will share as they learn more. She also asked about when we award contracts if there is accountability for following through with their deliverables and outcomes. Dr. McCarty followed up to ask about the $4.2 million contract for special education, especially in light of the U.S. Department of Education expressing concern that Alabama students with special needs have not made progress over the past five years. Dr. Mackey said that for over 2 decades there has been a persistent gap between special education outcomes and general education. 19 proposals scored, awarded 11 proposals to 8 different vendors to work on increasing outcomes on special needs students.
- Dr. McCarty continued to share that she is really concerned about the achievement of other student sub-groups and asked about how board members can get more information about their performance and what the ALSDE is doing to address these gaps.
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.