Looking Back on 2023’s Education Policy Wins

Looking Back on 2023’s Education Policy Wins

2024 has officially begun! The 2024 Legislative Session is now only a month away. As we kick off this new year, we are highlighting the biggest education policy developments of 2023.

Here are the biggest education policy developments in Alabama in 2023:

Improving the Alabama Principal Pipeline

Research has found that changing a school from an ineffective principal to an effective principal can add up to three months of learning in reading and math for students attending the school. The legislature passed the School Principal Leadership and Mentoring Act (SB300) sponsored by Senator Arthur Orr and Rep. Alan Baker to increase the effectiveness of principals in schools across the state. This new law establishes the foundation for a strong principal pipeline in our state. By successfully participating in the Alabama Principal Leadership Development System, principals can receive a stipend of $10,000 ($15,000 in hard-to-staff schools), and assistant principals can receive $5,000 ($7,500 for hard-to-staff) per year. This participation begins with creating a professional learning plan every year and completing five additional days of high-quality professional learning. In future years it will require new principals to work with a mentor for two years (beginning in 2024-2025) and all principals to participate in the new evaluation system (beginning 2027-2028) and complete a new year-long leadership academy (by 2029-2030). Until last year, Alabama has not addressed principal leadership through policy since 2005.

Strengthening Alabama’s Workforce Pathways 

The legislature also passed the Alabama Credential Quality and Transparency Act (HB109), which was sponsored by Rep. Collins. This law will help close the nine percentage point gap between Alabama’s graduation rate and college and career readiness rate. It requires each graduate to earn a college and career readiness indicator starting with the class of 2026. It also puts into law both the state’s process for ensuring the workforce credentials are high quality and ATLAS, the state’s longitudinal data system, which will give state leaders more information about the effectiveness of workforce training and education programs.

Fiscal Year 2024 Investment in the Alabama Numeracy Act:

The Alabama Numeracy Act was funded at $40 million in the Education Trust Fund for the current year, a $25 million increase over the previous year. In addition, $24 million was provided for summer math camps for struggling students through the supplemental budget.

Literacy Act Implementation:

In 2022, the Legislature delayed the retention component of the Alabama Literacy Act until the 2023-2024 school year. The Alabama State Board of Education has been following the progress of Literacy Act implementation and taken several steps to provide the youngest students with a strong start in learning to read. Below we outline those steps as well as provide links to our full meeting recaps in the “Across the Board” series:

    • Discussion in February 2023 and March 2023: The Board adopted K-3 English Language Arts textbooks reviewed by the Literacy Task Force and state textbook committee.
    • Discussion in August 2023 and September 2023: The Board set cut scores for the ACAP Reading subtest at 435 and committed to review it again next year. 
    • Discussion in November 2023 and December 2023: The Barksdale Institute of Mississippi presented its final report in October 2022 finding that only 23% of courses in elementary educator prep programs in the state were fully aligned to the science of reading, and 29% of textbooks used in these programs were strongly aligned. The Board voted to approve these programs in December following updates from staff from the colleges and reports of their progress toward full alignment. 
    • Discussion in December 2023: The Board discussed a new administrative code rule that would create standards for teaching reading at educator prep programs and align them to the science of reading. It would also ban three-cueing, an approach to teaching reading proven to be ineffective, in educator prep programs and in K-12 public schools. 

There are big things in store for Alabama students in 2024! To keep up with education policy developments in the new year, sign up for the Gist.