Category: Education

Statewide Testing Shows Low Scores in First Look at COVID Impact

MONTGOMERY — Student test results released Thursday showed overall disappointing scores in the first statewide data revealing the impact of COVID-19 on learning.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the low scores were expected because of complications with learning during the pandemic last school year.

“When students don’t have a teacher in the classroom with them, it is much more difficult for them to learn,” Mackey said. “We need students in the classroom with teachers as much as possible, and so the scores did go down and that is a trend we are seeing all across the country.”

Just more than half of the state’s third graders tested as proficient in English language arts, while 40% tested at basic grade level and 10% tested below grade level. Among eighth graders, 52% tested as proficient in ELA, while 40% had basic grade-level skills and 9% were below grade level.

Math scores were worse. Just 30% of the state’s third graders tested proficient in math, while 37% tested at basic grade level and 33% tested below grade level. Among eighth graders, just 14% tested proficient in math, while 60% had basic grade-level skills and 26% were below grade level. Read more.

Sen. Orr: It’s Time to Talk About Tax Cuts for Retirees, Low-Income Families

For the first time in 15 years, tax receipts in the state’s Education Trust Fund are hitting double-digit growth, prompting the Senate’s budget chairman to say it’s time the Legislature considers some possible tax cuts.

While there are still several factors that could influence revenues in fiscal 2022 and 2023 and some growing expenses, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, told Alabama Daily News the Legislature should consider reducing the income tax burden on some fixed-income seniors and families making around $50,000 a year or less.  

“If the stars align correctly, and that’s a mighty big if, I think it’s time to have that discussion about tax cuts and sending money back home, back to the people,” Orr said this week. 
Read more.

Fewer Alabama High School Grads Going Straight to College; Higher Ed Advertising Options

The number of students graduating from Alabama high schools and entering state universities and colleges dipped by 5% in 2020 to 41%.

While that decrease can in part be blamed on COVID-19-caused disruptions, it’s also part of a larger decline that education officials say is a sign of a strong economy. In 2011, 53% of high school graduates went directly to in-state colleges.

“I think it mostly can be attributed since 2011 to an improvement in the economy,” Jim Purcell, executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, said. Post-Great Recession, more jobs have been available to people right out of high school.

But as the state works to find more skilled workers, higher education leaders are trying new ways to reach them. Purcell said that as people’s careers advance or manufacturing jobs become more automated, training and courses are available.
Read more.

Two Incumbents, Including President, Ousted from Board of Education

Two members of the Birmingham Board of Education, including President Daagye Hendricks, were defeated in Tuesday’s election, and a third incumbent was forced into a runoff.

Challenger Derrick Billups got 55% of the votes to oust District 4 member and board President Daagye Hendricks.

District 2 incumbent Terri Michal fell to Neonta Williams, who collected 56% of the vote in the two-candidate field.

In District 1, challenger Sherman Collins Jr. narrowly led incumbent Douglas Lee Ragland in a three-way race, but neither got a majority and they will meet in a runoff Oct. 5. Each got 43% of the vote, with Collins leading by 13 votes.
Read more.

As COVID Cases Rise, Emergency Leave Unavailable for Teachers

Most Alabama school teachers who are temporarily sent home this school year because they contract COVID-19, are exposed to it or are caring for their own children in quarantine will have to use their personal leave time to do it.

A few weeks into the academic year, some schools have  had to move students temporarily to virtual learning as COVID-19 cases prevent in-person learning.

The Alabama Education Association is asking local systems to extend paid emergency leave to staff.
Read more.