• 66°
franklin county times

Alabama’s schools experience successful year

All the tell tale signs are there: the growing problems with concentration, an increase in fidgeting, the lack of energy for the task at hand, long stares out the window, and a major rise in daydreaming. All of these symptoms can only mean one thing.

The end of school is near.

For most Alabama children, the end of May means the end of school. Some are already out for the year, and some are simply counting the days or even the hours, until school is out for summer. It is hard to keep your thoughts on anything else than that long awaited vacation. Just remember when you were a kid in elementary school and how sweet the thought of summer was.

As things wind down in our classrooms, it is a good time to reflect on the school year, and to look to the future. For all intents and purposes, it was a good year for Alabama students and schools.

Alabama’s eighth-graders made significant gains in reading, according to their test scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Alabama uses the NAEP to measure student achievement, and the eighth-graders’ scores went up three points from 252 in 2007 to 255 in 2009, which test officials say is a significant improvement.

Alabama’s fourth-grade students did not see a gain in the 2009 scores, which is not necessarily a bad outcome. Just two years ago Alabama’s fourth graders made the largest jump in reading scores in the nation, and one of the largest ever recorded. In 2009 testing, the fourth grade scores remained level. State education officials see this as locking in the gains, and are now looking for ways to keep the progress going.

The improvement in reading is a reflection of the hard work of teachers and students, and the impact of the Alabama Reading Initiative, our state’s homegrown and award winning program.

Over the past five years, we took the Reading Initiative from only a handful of schools and expanded it to every school. The dividends of this investment have been seen in the elementary level, and are now being seen in later grades.

Another area of gains is in Advanced Placement for high school students. The number of students participating in AP courses and exams continues to rise in Alabama, and the number of students passing those AP exams is also increasing. Success on an AP exam predicts college success and graduation, and the more of our high school students taking AP courses show more will go on and get a higher degree.

Such academic gains in Alabama’s schools happened in a time of proration. For the second year, our school budgets were cut mid year because of staggering revenue due to the lingering effects of the past recession. Problems in the economy hit the income and sales taxes hard, and those are the two principal ways we fund education.

Every thing in education has been cut to the bone. We did not buy textbooks. We eliminated classroom supplies. We had to zero out technology purchases.

So many things have been cut from the state education budget except one thing: teachers themselves.

In a time when California will lay off more than 20,000 teachers, New York more than 15,000, and nationwide more than 300,000 teachers could be let go, Alabama will have no teacher layoffs from the state budget. We worked in this past legislative session to keep teachers in their classrooms because when it is all said and done, you have to have a teacher teaching, and not to a classroom that is overcrowded. It was the right priority to keep teachers and cut other things.

We have also been able to maintain things like the Reading Initiative. It may be a bare bones state education budget, but it will help us maintain the progress we’ve seen over the past years.

As these last school days go by, students are certainly not thinking about the next school year. That is left to us. We can be sure that when students return after the summer is over, a teacher will be waiting for them.

Johnny Mack Morrow is a state representative for Franklin County. His column appears each Wednesday.

Franklin County

University of Alabama announces spring graduates

Franklin County

Dean’s, president’s lists students named for UA spring term

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Hugh Plott

Galleries

PHOTOS: Inaugural downtown Russellville Art Crawl winners

Galleries

PHOTOS: Russellville Public Library holds princess, pirates bounce party

Franklin County

Northwest Shoals Community College signs 24 students in FAME class

Franklin County

PROGRESS 2024: Veteran Spotlight – Tony Chard

News

Car show benefit helps raise needed funds

News

Russellville High School varsity cheerleaders attend UCA cheer camp

Franklin County

NWSCC receives $18,000 in grants from Dollar General Literacy Foundation

News

Russellville equine therapy visits library program

News

Steam locomotive delivery to Red Bay delayed, arrives July 1

News

Local author holds book signing at RPL

Franklin County

Former Russellville resident performs ‘Miracle Worker’

News

Presenting: Miss Phil Campbell

Franklin County

All American Tang Soo Do students recognized

News

Russellville High School students sign to pursue fine arts careers

Franklin County

Football Funday, special needs probowl take place June 15

Galleries

PHOTOS: RMS students take the stage for spring sing

News

Russellville member named among finalists for GFWC Jennie Award

East Franklin

East Franklin Junior High celebrates May 21 graduation

Belgreen

Belgreen Class of 2024 celebrates graduation

Franklin County

Local churches plan Vacation Bible School programs

Galleries

PHOTOS: Tharptown High School Wildcats graduate

x