Across the Board October 2023: Key Takeaways from the ALBOE Meeting

Recapping important State Board of Education policy decisions for you

October is Principals’ Month, and the Board meeting featured principal honorees from across the state, as well as other honorees. Congrats to the award-winning principals, assistant principals, counseling programs, history teacher of the year and science of reading spotlight schools! To see the full list, read the agenda here.  

Here are our key takeaways from the October 12th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.

Top 4 Key Takeaways

1. Summer Reading Camp Impact Data Report

The Alabama Literacy Act requires districts to offer summer reading camps to students who are not sufficient in reading. During the work session, the Board received a report on the impact of these summer programs on student achievement.

Enrollment in summer reading camps was highest for first grade students, followed closely by second and third grade, and then kindergarten. For all four grade levels, average daily attendance was 75%. Average growth was highest for kindergarten at 6.37%, then first grade at 5.44%, second grade at 4.0%, then third grade at 2.91%. Mrs. Bonnie Short, director of the Alabama Reading Initiative, said that this is likely because students in third grade are further behind younger students, so they are harder to catch up over the summer. 

Students in third grade this school year will be the first cohort to be eligible for retention under the Alabama Literacy Act. Implementation from here on will be crucial to moving students along with the reading skills they need to be successful. The presentation to the Board on summer reading camp metrics shows that the ALSDE is ready to let data guide implementation of the law so that all students learn to read. The next step is diving deeper into the data, considering metrics like how many teachers are LETRS trained or what curricula are being used in Alabama schools. This will help state leaders make the best decisions for Alabama students.

2. Educator Preparation Institutional Report Cards

The Educator Prep Institutional Report Cards provide data on individuals who completed a Class B or Alternative Class A program at an Alabama institution and their professional educator certificate was issued in the reporting period. Praxis and EdTPA data for individuals who passed on their first, second, and third or more attempts are provided, in addition to surveys from first or second year teachers and their employers. The 2023 report covers those who passed their assessment between August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022 along with surveys from teachers and employers between August 2022 and July 2023. Next year, the report cards will include data from the Foundations of Reading exam, which the Board voted to require beginning in September 2022 (see our March 2021 Across the Board for more information). 

Dr. Mackey made the caveat that the report does not show the number of individuals who never passed their assessment, only those who passed. Also, the response rates (especially for employers) are lower than the ideal, which could skew the results. However, teachers are reporting themselves in the surveys to be more comfortable with their ability to teach, and principals are feeling more confident in their abilities as well. 

Institutional Report Cards will be posted here soon.

3. Fiscal Year 2025 Education Trust Fund Budget

After discussions starting back in August, the Board voted to send its budget request for Fiscal Year 2025 to the Governor’s office. The final request included the following line items: 

  • Advanced Placement: $13.5 million for AP, an increase of $2 million over FY24
  • AMSTI: $34.3 million, a $1 million increase
  • Alabama Numeracy Act: $63.8 million, a $23.8 million increase 
  • Alabama Reading Initiative: a total of $158 million, including $61.6 million for K-3 reading coaches and $2.75 million for early childhood classroom assessment
  • Struggling Readers Beyond Grade 3: $22 million for a line item that received no funding in FY24, despite a $3 million request
  • Alabama Summer and Afterschool Program: level funded at $2.86 million 
  • Auxiliary Teacher Grants for Underperforming Schools: level funded at $5.4 million
  • Computer Science: level funded at $6 million
  • Mental Health Service Coordinators: $9.2 million, an increase of $4.5 million
  • Student Assessment: $23.4 million, an increase of $4 million 
  • Underperforming Schools: level funded at $10 million
  • Office of School Improvement: $1.85 million, an increase of $900,00
  • Principal Leadership & Mentoring Act: a total of $30.8 million, including $16.5 million for principal stipends, $8.4 million for assistant principal stipends, and $2.3 million for additional stipends for those working in hard to staff schools
  • Foundation Program: $4.7 billion, an increase of $217 million

For explanations of what these new funds are going to, check out the August and September Across the Board. To see the full budget request spreadsheet, click here.

4. Administrative Code – Education Accountability

The Board announced intent to adopt changes to the Alabama Administrative Code on education accountability. The Legislature passed an update to the 2013 Alabama Accountability Act during the 2023 session. The changes to the administrative code are to align the code with the changes to the law. The biggest update is changing from “failing school” language to “priority schools.” The new policy also changes the way schools are identified under the law from “schools in the bottom 6%” on statewide assessments to D and F schools on the state report card. According to ALSDE staff, there were about 233 D or F schools on last year’s report card.

To see the full October Board Meeting and Work Session agendas, click here.

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.

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.