Education News in Alabama
November 14 , 2007 (archive)
By Sallie Owen
- Older Children Succeed with Alabama Reading Initiative
- Alabama 'Very Competitive Nationally'
- Research Finding: South leads nation in prekindergarten, more work needed to ensure all children are ready for school
- What does this mean for Alabama?
- Leadership in Tuscaloos
- State Board of Education Update: Goodbye to Katherine Mitchell
- Examples of Excellence
- 'Education Oscar' Winner
- Public School Boasts Both AP Scholars
- Alabama's Best
- National Science Teachers Association in Birmingham
- Public Meeting for Special Education
1. Older Children Succeed with Alabama Reading Initiative
Students in pilot schools showed impressive gains in the first year of the Alabama Reading Initiative's Project for Adolescent Literacy. Known as ARI-PAL, the project is designed to strengthen reading skills of older students.
- Overall, ARI-PAL students in grades 4, 5, 6 and 8 made better reading comprehension gains than their peers statewide.
- Two ARI-PAL schools with the biggest challenges (most of their students are minorities from low-income families) showed "exceptional gains." Aliceville Middle School (Pickens County) and Stone Middle School (Huntsville) both showed more students reading at grade level, in every grade.
The Alabama Reading Initiative has published a 20-page booklet detailing the first year of its Project for Adolescent Literacy, called ARI-PAL. Find it here http://snipurl.com/aripalbook
ARI is in every K-3 classroom statewide, and ARI-PAL adapts the model for grades four through 12. It was piloted in 14 schools during the 2006-07 school year.
2. Alabama 'Very Competitive Nationally'
Jim Williams from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama analyzed Alabama's recent reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Among his observations published by The Alabama Baptist (http://snipurl.com/parca_reading) :
- Alabama's fourth-grade reading score increased more than the average score of any other state.
- With the increase, Alabama's fourth-grade reading scores have become very competitive nationally.
- Closing the gap between students from different income levels is the key to increasing Alabama's national ranking.
Williams and state education leaders credit the Alabama Reading Initiative for the strong reading skills of Alabama's fourth-graders.
3. Research Finding:
South leads nation in prekindergarten, more work needed to ensure all children are ready for school
Southern states are leading the United States in providing access to high-quality, state-funded prekindergarten, according to a new report from the Southern Regional Education Board.
Still, states must do more to make sure all children are ready to learn when they start school, SREB found. Expanding access to high-quality prekindergarten is especially important for two groups of children: those from English-as-a-second language families and children from low-income families above the poverty line.
Find a summary plus the full report at http://snipurl.com/srebonprek.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR ALABAMA?
Alabama's voluntary, state-funded pre-kindergarten program has earned the highest quality rating from the National Institute for Early Education Research. The program is still small, serving about 2,400 four-year-olds statewide regardless of family income. Support is strong, but expansion could be difficult as the state's revenue growth slows.
Learn more from the Alabama School Readiness Alliance, http://snipurl.com/alsra. A+ is a founding partner of ASRA.
LEADERSHIP IN TUSCALOOSA
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox has partnered with Tuscaloosa City Schools to offer prekindergarten for at-risk children. Read more from the Tuscaloosa News http://snipurl.com/tnews1108.
4. State Board of Education Update: Goodbye to Katherine Mitchell
The Alabama State Board of Education wished Dr. Katherine Mitchell a happy retirement last week, thanking her for her service and asking if she would consider leading the Alabama Reading Initiative a little longer.
"I can tell you the ARI will not skip a beat. The scores will go up next year," Mitchell told the board, promising that the acclaimed ARI has a strong team of leaders in place. "They were ready to run the thing three years ago."
Mitchell thanked board members for having the political will to back the ARI. All members except the governor were present.
The board also formally adopted its 2008-2009 budget request (discussed here http://www.aplusala.org/ednews/2007/en07-nov6.asp) and authorized review of teacher education programs at Auburn University Montgomery and the University of South Alabama.
5. Examples of Excellence
- 'EDUCATION OSCAR' WINNER – Science teacher Bonnie Garrett of Huntsville won one of 80 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards this year. She was surprised with a $25,000 check during a recent assembly at Ed White Middle School, part of the Huntsville school system. Garrett excels at motivating "difficult to teach" students, according to her principal.
- PUBLIC SCHOOL BOASTS BOTH AP SCHOLARS – The College Board tapped Jennifer M. Barry and Johnny H. Hu, both recent graduates from Grissom High School (Huntsville City Schools), as Alabama's Advanced Placement State Scholars for 2007. The award is given to one male and one female student from each state who have made high scores on the most AP exams during their high school years and who also have the highest average exam score.
- ALABAMA'S BEST – The School Superintendents of Alabama named Ann Roy Moore of Huntsville superintendent of the year. Moore was praised for her calm leadership after last year's bus wreck that killed four students from Lee High School.
- National Science Teachers Association in Birmingham: The NSTA's 2007 Southern Area Conference is scheduled for Dec. 6-8 in Birmingham. Online registration is open through Nov. 30. Learn more at http://www.nsta.org.
- Public Meeting for Special Education: The Special Education Advisory Panel and the Alabama State Department of Education have scheduled a meeting to deliver the Annual Performance Report for Students with Disabilities and hear comments from the public. The event will be Dec. 17-18 in Montgomery. For details, visit http://snipurl.com/specedmtg.
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The A+ Education Foundation, based in Montgomery, publishes Education News in Alabama twice a month. A+ is a nonprofit organization that advances policies, programs and initiatives in Alabama's K-12 education system that result in high achievement by every child.
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