Tag: Alabama Schools

Senate Approves Delay of Literacy Act Student Holdback Requirement

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Tuesday voted to delay by two years the requirement that third graders who don’t read at set levels be held back in school, as described in the Alabama Literacy Act, despite opposition from some chamber leaders.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, sponsored Senate Bill 94. It passed by a vote of 23-9.

The 2019 law currently requires that, starting at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, third grade students demonstrate sufficient reading skills before being promoted to fourth grade. Smitherman and others argued that COVID-19-caused learning loss would lead to more students being held back next year if lawmakers didn’t act. Read more.

More from the Legislature this week:

Bill Would Change State’s Grand Jury Secrecy Laws, Free Witnesses to Talk About Testimony

Governor Signs Alcohol Delivery Bill

Read complete legislative coverage.

Advancement and Technology Fund Could Send $282M to K-12, Higher Ed

Alabama K-12 schools and colleges could receive about $282 million this year separate from the state education budget or any federal relief money flowing to them.

Senate Bill 193 would allocate money through the state’s Advancement and Technology Fund, which can be spent on one-time purchases in tech, capital improvements and a few other select expenses. The proposal that passed the Senate distributes nearly $76.3 million to higher education institutions and nearly $206 million to K-12.

For the smallest school systems, it’s several hundred thousand dollars. Mobile County, the state’s largest K-12 system, would get $14.8 million. Every school’s proposed allocation is listed in the bill approved by the Senate and now in the House. Schools would receive the money this summer. Read more.

Bill to Delay Rules That Would Fail Third Graders Who Don’t Read Well Enough Advances

A bill that would delay by three years a provision to require holding back third graders who don’t read at a sufficient level received unanimous support in the Senate Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The provision is in the Alabama Literacy Act, which was approved by lawmakers in 2019. It aims to increase reading skills in young students. The act currently requires that, starting at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, third grade students demonstrate specific reading skills before being promoted to fourth grade. Smitherman’s bill delays that retention requirement until the 2024-2025 school year.

He said the delay is needed because the COVID-19 pandemic led to remote learning for many students, and they’re not getting the educational support they need. He also said teachers haven’t been able to get the training they need. Read more.

More from the Legislature This Week:

Bill to Close ABC Stores Gets Committee Approval

Concealed Carry, Law Enforcement Checks, Jail Issues Taken Up Thursday by Legislature

Ban on Curbside Voting Passes, Special Session Bill Dies

Monuments Bill Killed; Lawmaker Calls Members Racist

House Passes Business-Friendly State Emergency Bill

Read complete legislative coverage.

Birmingham-Area Schools’ Plans for Reopening

Schools across the state are deciding when and how to reopen schools in the fall. The state Department of Education set out several options for systems to consider, including in-person learning, virtual learning and blended plans, and said all parents have the option to enroll their children in a virtual learning program. Here is where Birmingham-area schools stand on planning for the start of school. Read more.

Business Education Alliance: High-Level Skills and Education Needed to Meet Workforce Needs

Alabama faces a shortage of 200,000 highly skilled workers to fulfill industry job predictions by 2025 unless it aligns workforce development programs and collaborations between business and education with what employers will need, said the Business Education Alliance in a report released today.

As Alabama shifts away from an industrial-based to knowledge-based economy, the BEA report stated, 60% of the working population will need to attain college-level degrees or credentials to qualify for jobs in 2025. Data for 2017 showed that 43% of the Alabama workforce possessed a college degree or other post-secondary education. Read more.

House Passes Reading Proficiency, Third Grade Holdback Bill

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday night passed a bill to require schools to hold back for another year third-grade students who are not reading on grade level.

The bill was debated for more than two hours as Democrats questioned the ability of the bill to solve reading problems in failing schools and voiced concerns about the retention component of the bill. Some also cited the expected costs as a concern. The Alabama State Department of Education estimates literacy education requirements in the bill will cost $90 million annually.

In the end, the House voted 92-3 to pass House Bill 388, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur. Collins consulted with the Department of Education and said the bill could see additional changes as it moves to the Senate. Read more.

Fast-Tracked Common Core Repeal Bill Passed by the Senate

Updated MONTGOMERY – A bill to repeal the state’s Common Core education standards cleared the Senate on Thursday, a day after being passed in committee.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, in previous years stood in the way of Common Core repeal efforts. But now he says removing the standards and charging the Alabama Board of Education to start over is aimed at improving Alabama’s lagging student performance.

“My position early on was that the (state) Department of Education and the board, elected by the people, should figure this out,” Marsh told Alabama Daily News this week. “That’s policy. We’re sitting here today with math scores in the eighth-grade level at 49th in the country and reading at 46th. I mean, you can’t justify that. So we’re saying after nine years with this program, it’s not working and we need to change direction.”

The bill would require the state board of educatiion to adopt new standards for the 2021-2022 school year. Originally the bill had called for the new standards to be in place for the 2020-2021 school year, and it required the state to revert to the previous standards in place during the 1990s and 2000s for the upcoming academic year. Some educators objected to changing the standards twice in two years and said making the changes would be a burdensome and costly task.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey said the bill would have a lot of unintended consequences.

Read more.

Alabama Failing Schools List Includes 22 Metro Schools

A list of 75 “failing” schools in Alabama includes 22 schools in the Birmingham metro area – 14 Birmingham city schools, two in the Jefferson County school system, and two each in Bessemer, Fairfield and Midfield.

Based on 2017 test results in math and reading on the ACT Aspire standardized tests, failing schools are defined as those with students scoring in the lowest 6 percent of state schools. The failing designation and definition is defined by the Alabama Accountability Act of 2013 that was modified in 2015 to exclude schools that serve special populations of students with disabilities.

The Alabama State Department of Education posted the list of failing schools, 75 out of Alabama’s 1,325 public schools, online Jan. 24,
Read more.

See the list of Alabama schools on the 2018 Alabama Accountability Act failing schools list.

A+, the ACT and Poverty: Can Program Help Poor Schools Too?

A first look at the list of 81 Alabama high schools whose students scored best on the 2016 ACT exam shows an encouraging intersection: Fifty-four of those schools are participants in the A+ College Ready Initiative, a program that helps schools implement Advanced Placement programs and aims to raise education aspirations across the state.

But another view of the data, reported by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, reveals that 51 of the 54, about 94 percent, of top-performing A+ College Ready schools share another advantage. The schools are working with more affluent student bodies, those with less poverty than the state average. Read more.