Gov. Kay Ivey and education leaders are stressing the importance of expanding summer learning throughout the state as educators seek to help students recover from learning loss sustained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ivey on Wednesday toured a program that is funded by Summer Adventures in Learning and helps pair community organizations with schools to create high-quality summer learning programs.
Jim Wooten, chair of Sail, said Sail aims to reimagine what summer school can look like. He said easily 75% of Alabama students could benefit from summer learning. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Alabama’s K-12 schools have about $2.02 billion coming in from the American Rescue Plan Act that schools will be able to spend over the next three years, making it one of the largest single investments Alabama has ever seen for public education.
In three rounds of COVID-19 federal relief funding since last year, K-12 schools are getting more than $3.1 billion. That’s more than four years’ worth of annual federal Title I money targeted at helping low-income learners.
“We’ve never had an influx of money like this before and we’re excited about the possibilities,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey told Alabama Daily News. Read more.
Alabama joins 16 other states and Washington D.C. where third graders must pass a reading test – or risk being held back. That’s why this summer, teachers at Birmingham City Schools began coaching their students on reading skills to get a head start on the new retention policy. Read more.
Home games will truly be home games in the near future for the Woodlawn High School football team, following a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday for a new, on-campus stadium at the historic Birmingham school.
“This right here is instrumental for our student athletes, and our community, to have our own home field right here on our campus,” Principal Terrell Brown said. “We’re going to continue the tradition that has been started from many great athletes.”
Architects say construction will start this fall, and the stadium is expected to be ready for the for the 2022 football season. It is designed to accommodate more than 2,800 spectators, and it will include an artificial turf athletic field, renovated field house and a stadium lighting and sound system.
MONTGOMERY — State Superintendent Eric Mackey on Friday said there will be no push from the state department to require students or staff to wear masks when schools resume next month.
Mackey told Alabama Daily News it will be up to local schools to approach mask-wearing and social distancing.
“Local school districts have the authority if they want to do something with requirements, but we are not going to do any guidance from the state level on that,” Mackey said. Read more.
Several Alabama community colleges have not met all the requirements of a long-standing federal act on campus safety reporting, but officials say they will be compliant by the Oct. 1 reporting deadline. Read more.
MONTGOMERY — Alabama leaders say 45% of the state’s workforce now has an educational certificate or degree beyond high school, representing progress in the goal of adding 500,000 newly credentialed people to the workforce by 2025 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Workforce Development Division in the Alabama Department of Commerce, told Alabama Daily News the pandemic has even helped in some respects in reaching the half million goal.
“Oddly enough, it hurt us, but then it helped us,” Castile said. “The sad news is a lot of people lost their jobs, but that helped us a little bit by getting people into programs to give them a credential which added them to our numbers. But it also got them a job that could also not be so affected by something like the pandemic.”
More of Alabama’s children have health insurance and are graduating high school on time, but many of them need more support in key areas such as math skills.
Alabama ranks 47th in the nation for children’s well-being, according to the 2021 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Each year, the report tracks challenges facing kids and their families in all 50 states. It uses 16 indicators ranked across four areas, including health, education, economic well-being and family and community.
Alabama has generally improved over the last couple evaluations, making the top five in 2019 for children graduating on time and children with health insurance. The state has also improved or stayed the same in 14 of 16 indicators, but is still falling behind the rest of the country.
Alabama ranked lowest in the country for eighth-grade math proficiency, and the state performed worse on several health indicators. It saw more babies born with low birth-weights, and child and teen deaths increased from 37 in 2018 to 41 in 2019. Read more.
Revenue at Alabama’s higher education institutions in 2020 was greater than the national per-student average and ranked seventh in the nation, but students’ tuition dollars made up significantly more of that total than the national average.
About 67% of Alabama’s higher education’s total revenue came from tuition, according to information from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. In 2008, the “student share” of total revenue was 41.7%, according to a report from the association.
“The hard part is 67% of our total revenue is dependent on tuition, which means parents and families have a bigger share of that,” Alabama Commission on Higher Education Executive Director Jim Purcell told commission members at their quarterly board meeting this month.
“Alabama has a lot of low-income people, but our tuition revenue is twice the national average,” Purcell said. Read more.
Knowing that nearly half of Alabama’s public university bachelor’s degree earners are working in other states five years after they graduate, state leaders are funding more efforts to keep that talent pool at home.
In the 2022 state education budget, lawmakers allocated $800,000 for a new “Retain Alabama” initiative to introduce college students to opportunities for them in the Yellowhammer state.
“Our state has been a low-growth state and we have to do all we can to retain that knowledge capital that we’re losing every year when they leave,” said Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, chairman of the Senate education budget committee. Read more.