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 5 Takeaways
1. Proposed Approvals of Educator Prep Programs that Have Made Progress on Meeting Alabama Literacy Act Requirements
The Board discussed approving seven educator prep programs in the state that received conditional approval 18 months ago to give them time to meet the requirements of the Alabama Literacy Act to align with the science of reading. Last October, the Barksdale Reading Institute of Mississippi presented its final report on the alignment of Alabama’s educator prep programs to the science of reading. That report found that only 23% of courses offered in elementary educator prep programs are fully aligned to the science of reading and only 29% of textbooks used in teacher prep college courses strongly aligned to the science of reading. Reports on individual institutions were provided to the colleges but were not made publicly available.
The resolutions proposed to be voted on in December state that each school submitted progress documents, including revised course syllabi, evidence of faculty training in the science of reading, and evidence of newly adopted textbooks rated “acceptable” or “exemplary” by NCTQ. The resolutions also state that the literacy review team examined the evidence presented and that each school has made significant progress toward implementing Barksdale Institute’s recommendations.
This progress toward ensuring our teacher prep programs are aligned with the science of reading is a great first step, and we are excited about the increased collaboration between the ALSDE and universities to make this progress happen. Because the public does not have access to the individual college’s report and recommendations, accountability for these schools is left entirely up to the Board. There is no information available to the public on how much progress has been made in aligning teacher preparation courses and textbooks to the science of reading. Board members should thoroughly review the materials submitted by the programs and give approval only if they are implementing recommendations from Barksdale and effectively training teachers in the science of reading.
The programs up for approval include Class B, Class A, and alternative Class A programs in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Collaborative Special Education at Alabama A&M University, Athens State University, Alabama State University, Auburn University, Miles College, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of West Alabama.
Finally, Alabama is participating in the second cohort of The Path Forward, a program by the Hunt Institute that provides support to states to embed the science of reading into teacher preparation. This opportunity allows the state to build on the work done with the Barksdale Institute in implementing the Alabama Literacy Act at the college and university level, strengthening the educator pipeline to provide every student with a teacher who understands the science of reading. The Board will receive an update on this work and new proposed standards for teacher preparation at their December Work Session.
2. Alternative Teacher Prep Organizations Administrative Code Change
Following the 2022 law that allowed alternative teacher prep organizations to operate in Alabama, the Legislature passed an update to that law in 2023 (see our 2023 Legislative Session Recap) to set requirements for these organizations. The goal of this update was to increase the pipeline of alternative teacher candidates into the classroom. The Board was then required to update the administrative code to reflect changes in the law. Changes to the code include:
- Adding language about compliance with the U.S. Department of Education regulations on special education teachers,
- Removing language that would allow the ALSDE to terminate approval if enrollment and number of teachers prepared over a three-year period is low,
- Specifying the differences in requirements for candidates seeking alternative certificates and professional educator certificates,
- Removing the requirement of documentation outlining how the ATPO will comply with certain teacher preparation requirements of the Alabama Literacy Act and Alabama Numeracy Act,
- Specifying the options for meeting testing requirements
According to Dr. Mackey, there are three organizations interested in offering alternative teacher preparation options to aspiring teachers in Alabama. The proposed code language allows organizations to either require candidates to take the assessments required of traditional teacher candidates or take assessments used by the organization. One of the three organizations plans to use its own assessments, but that assessment must be aligned with the assessments required by the state and validated by a third-party group.
The Board adopted the new code language unanimously. Read the new code section here.
3. Charter School Administrative Code Change
The Legislature amended the charter law during the 2023 session, and that requires the Board to update its administrative code. Changes to the code include:
- Requiring guidelines for local charter authorizers to reapply for authorizer status,
- Requiring that charter schools receive their distribution of allocations for operational and categorical funding in the same manner as non-charter public schools
However, no Board member made a motion to adopt the new code language, so the rule change did not receive a vote. It will come back up as “unfinished business” at their December meeting. Read the proposed code section here.
4. Administrative Code Changes for Regulations Governing Public Schools
The Board discussed a proposed administrative code change to the section titled “Regulations Governing Public Schools” that would do the following:
- Codify the high school civics exam currently in place.
- Codify the new financial literacy exam required by a new law passed during the 2023 legislative session.
- Update the effective date of the requirement that all students must earn a college and career readiness indicator to graduate. The SBOE made this a requirement during the November 2022 meeting, which would have begun during the 2027-2028 school year; however, the Legislature passed a new law this year that moved the graduation requirement forward to 2025-2026.
This proposal will be up for a vote at the December board meeting. Read the proposed code section here.
4. A+ College Ready Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction Honored
Congratulations to the A+ College Ready Schools of Excellence and Schools of Distinction! The 10 Schools of Excellence and 4 Schools of Distinction met or exceeded their goals for qualifying scores on 2023 Advanced Placement exams or PSAT exam (for middle schools). Read the resolutions here.
To see the full November 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.