Across the Board July 2024: Key Takeaways from the ALBOE Meeting & Work Session

Recapping important State Board of Education policy decisions for you

Here are our key takeaways from the July 9th State Board of Education meeting and work session – and what they mean for Alabama’s students. Today, the SBOE elected Dr. Tonya Chestnut as the new Vice President and Marie Manning as the new President Pro Tem. Congratulations! Stephanie Bell, Jackie Ziegler, Belinda McRae, and Dr. Wayne Reynolds were absent.

Top 3 Takeaways

1. 2024 ELA, Math, & Science ACAP Data Released

During today’s work session, Dr. Mackey presented the state-level Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program (ACAP) standardized test scores from the 2023-2024 school year. Each year, the ACAP is given to students in grades 2-8 to assess how well they mastered their grade level standards and content. See the charts here.

In ELA, all grade levels made progress, with 3rd grade seeing the biggest improvement in the percentage of students scoring proficient (levels 3 and 4), with a 9 percentage point gain from 54% in 2022-2023 to 63% in 2023-2024. All grades have more than 50% of students scoring proficient (levels 3 and 4). These results track the progress made on the reading sub-test scores released last month and continue to show the impact of strong implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act by our students, teachers, and the Alabama Reading Initiative. This is significant progress for our students!

Less progress was made in math, with a 5 percentage point drop in students scoring proficient in 2nd grade and a 1 percentage point drop in 3rd grade. Dr. Mackey expressed concern for 8th grade math scores, citing that 55% of Alabama 8th graders are scoring basic and might not be prepared for Algebra I. 

Results were mixed in science, which is only tested in 4th, 6th, and 8th grades. 4th grade gained 2 percentage points from 38% to 40% proficient, 6th grade was flat at 30%, and 8th grade dropped from 41% to 38%.

Dr. Mackey also reviewed scores from other important summative tests, including the ACCESS assessment for English Language Learner students and the ACT. On the 2023-2024 ACCESS assessment, 46,456 ELL students were tested, up from 41,081 in 2022-2023. Of the ELL students who were tested, 4.6% exited their ELL program due to their ACCESS test scores. It’s important to note that the ELL student population is rapidly growing across the state, with 42% growth since 2018.

There was no growth in Alabama’s ACT composite score, which has hovered at 17.4 for the last two years. Additionally, there was a 2 percentage point drop in the percentage of students that scored proficient in both ELA and math.

Several board members expressed concerns about the lack of progress in middle grades, specifically with literacy scores. Both Dr. Tonya Chestnut and Tracie West inquired if more support could be extended to grades 4-8, noting that they were grateful for the $5 million that the Legislature allocated to supporting struggling readers beyond grade 3, but that more is needed.


2. #T.E.A.C.H. Returns – Potential Alternative Teacher Preparation Program

The Legislature first passed a law allowing alternative teacher preparation organizations to come to Alabama in 2022. In 2023, the Legislature amended that law, changing the requirements for ATPOs to increase the number approved, despite the Board’s hesitation. At March’s board meeting, #T.E.A.C.H. was recommended for approval but failed to get enough Board votes with five abstentions (Bell, Ziegler, Richardson, Chestnut, Reynolds). The main concern at the March meeting was that #T.E.A.C.H. was not CAEP accredited. Since then, #T.E.A.C.H. has been approved for CAEP accreditation without stipulations. 

Today, #T.E.A.C.H came before the board in the work session to make the case for their approval and answer questions. To see their presentation, click here. Dr. Mackey discussed bringing a resolution to approve #T.E.A.C.H before the board in the August meeting, but no final decision was made since several board members were not present.

3. Teacher Bill of Rights Model Policy Proposed

During the 2024 legislative session, the legislature passed a new law called the Teacher Bill of Rights in response to a wide range of concerns around classroom management and student behavior since the COVID-19 pandemic. SB 157, which received unanimous approval in both chambers, codifies 5 main reasons why students can be excluded from classroom settings:

  • Engage in disorderly conduct,
  • Behave in a manner that obstructs the teaching or learning process of others in the classroom,
  • Threatens, abuses, intimidates, or attempts to intimidate an education employee or another student,
  • Willfully disobeys an education employee, or
  • Uses abusive or profane language directed at an education employee.

Additionally, the new law requires that schools document when students are sent out of the classroom, requires the principal to intervene with the student, and codifies an appeal process if teachers disagree with the principal’s action. The law also requires that the SBOE pass a model policy but does not require local boards to adopt a policy. Either way, the law will go into effect before the beginning of the school year. 

Today, the board discussed a model policy they could adopt in their August meeting, which means that local boards would likely not be able to adopt a policy until later this fall. To read the model policy, click here. To read more about the Teacher Bill of Rights, click here. Implementation of this law needs to be monitored carefully to ensure that its impact doesn’t target certain student groups disproportionately.

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