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

Recapping important State Board of Education policy decisions for you

Here are our key takeaways from the December 14th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students.

Top 5 Takeaways

1. Aligning Educator Preparation Programs to the Science of Reading

One of the barriers to ensuring every child can read is that many teachers have not been learning the science of reading in our colleges of education. 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, which found that only 23% of courses offered in elementary educator prep programs are fully aligned to the science of reading. To address these challenges, the ALSDE  joined the Path Forward, the Hunt Institute’s multi-state effort to improve teacher preparation in early literacy. Work done with The Path Forward included:

  • Ensuring Pre-Service Teacher Readiness in the Science of Reading
  • Supporting Higher Education Faculty Development
  • Forming a Higher Education Task Force to recommend changes in Alabama

During the work session, the Board discussed their first recommendation: a new Administrative Code section titled “Literacy Coursework: Science of Reading.” The new section updates the standards for teaching reading in early childhood education, elementary education, and collaborative special education courses at educator prep programs and aligns them to the science of reading. The new standards must be implemented in coursework for pre-service teachers by August 2024. In addition, the code prohibits the use of three-cueing, an approach to teaching reading proven to be ineffective, in educator prep programs and K-12 public schools.

During the main board meeting, the Board continued approval of 7 educator prep programs. Last year, these programs were up for a seven year approval but needed to align their programs to the Alabama Literacy Act and science of reading. The Board gave the EPPs 18 months to implement the science of reading in their programs. Last month, the Board received an update from each program on their progress toward alignment, and approved all seven programs today.

2. Alabama State Report Card Released for 2022-2023

Federal law requires every state to develop a report card that provides data on student achievement, graduation rates, and other metrics. Today, the ALSDE released the 2022-2023 Report Card, which also includes grades for all 140+ Alabama school districts. You can view your full local district’s report card here or see a full state list here.

The categories used to determine report card grades are academic achievement (20 points), academic growth (25 points), progress in English language proficiency (5 points), chronic absenteeism (10 points), graduation rate (30 points), and college and career readiness (10 points).

The number of schools receiving an ‘A’ increased from 203 to 262 schools. The number of schools receiving a ‘D’ or ‘F’ decreased from 219 to 206.

The state gave itself an 83.44 on the state report card for 2022-2023. This is down from an 84 on the previous year’s report card.

3. Administrative Code Change: Flexibility for Students in Priority Schools

During the 2023 Session, the Legislature updated the Alabama Accountability Act. Previously, the law allowed students who attended schools scoring in the bottom 6% on reading and math achievement to transfer to another public school within the same district, in another district, or a nonpublic school. The bill changed the eligibility criteria to students attending schools receiving a D or F on the most recent state report card. 

To see school report card grades for 2022-2023, click here

The Administrative Code change updates the language to reflect the student eligibility criteria, and switches from referring to schools as failing schools to priority schools. The Board voted unanimously to adopt the amended code rule. Read the new language here.

4. Administrative Code Changes: Charters

At the November meeting, the agenda included a vote on a change to the Administrative Code regarding charter schools. No Board member made a motion to adopt the change, so it returned to the agenda this month as part of the unfinished business section.

Dr. Mackey provided context on the amended code language, explaining that it was being brought due to changes in the charter law that passed during session. The amended code change was adopted unanimously. Read the new code section here.

5. Office of Math Improvement Summer Learning Report

The Alabama Numeracy Act requires summer math camps to be offered to students struggling with math at full support schools. The Board received an update on students’ progress over summer 2023: 

  • Over 10,000 students from 742 schools attended summer math camps in 2023
  • Student growth measured by pre- and post-tests:
    • Kindergarten: 9.38%
    • 1st Grade: 6.75%
    • 2nd Grade: 4.76%
    • 3rd Grade: 4.54%
    • 4th Grade: 3.32%
    • 5th Grade: 11.11%

These growth rates only include students who took both the pre- and post-tests.

In addition, OMI director Dr. Karen Anderson shared that the office will have 25 regional coordinators (up from 18) to better support full and limited support schools. Cohort 1 had 108 full and limited support schools, and 200 school-based coaches. The new list of support schools will be determined in January, and the plan for the next cohort of school-based coaches will follow.  

To see the full December 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.