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Great Public Schools Criteria for Alabama

Great Public Schools Criteria refers to the seven elements needed for closing the achievement gaps and raising achievement for all students. The seven elements are: (1) readiness to learn, (2) high expectations, (3) quality conditions, (4) qualified staff, (5) accountability, (6) parental involvement, and (7) funding.

Read more below about the Great Public Schools Criteria in Alabama.

Readiness to Learn


Full-day Kindergarten:

In 2000, the Alabama Pre-Kindergarten Pilot Program began serving 4-year-olds using a mixture of state, federal, and local funding sources. The local contribution for these programs is particularly notable, as localities are required to provide matching funds totaling at least 50 percent of the state funding amount for each program. Programs are operated by schools, private child care centers, child care management agencies, Head Start providers, universities, and housing authorities. There are no set eligibility criteria, and in 2002-2003 programs were offered in 63 out of the state's 67 counties. Alabama Pre-K Pilot Program for 4-year-olds and Head-Start Providers; Full day, full week; Lunch and snack; Vision, hearing, and health at least once per year; required support services--2 parent conference/year.
(National Institute for Early Education Research [NIEER] and Alabama State Department of Education [ASDE])

High Expectations


In 2004, Alabama outscored their counterparts in neighboring states on the ACT for the 7th consecutive year; Alabama's SAT continue to beat the national averages in verbal and math scores; Alabama's Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School was named the number one high school in the nation according the Newsweek Magazine. (ASDE)

Effective Instructional Systems and Strategies

The Alabama State Board of Educations Ruler
Making and Measuring Progress Grade by Grade

Every Student Should Have

Safe & Disciplined Schools
+

 Character Education/Student
 Responsibility and Conduct Standards
 Parent and Community Involvement

Quality Teachers
+

 Evaluations/Testing/Accountability
 Professional Development
 Outstanding Programs Preparing Teachers

Challenging Curriculum
+

 Alabama Reading Initiative
 Alabama Math, Science, & Technology Initiative
 Comprehensive Courses of Study/Technology

Effective School Leaders

 Emerging Leaders
 Principals Leadership Academy
 Superintendents Academy

= Students Prepared for College/Work/Adulthood in the 21st Century

Quality Conditions


Math and science test scores of students attending Alabama Math, Science and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) schools are higher in most cases than students enrolled in non-AMSTI-schools;

Mentoring literature indicates that the efficacy of mentoring is linked to the amount of time that a mentor and mentee work together.

Qualified Staff


In 2004, a national report recognized Alabama as among the top 10 states in the nation for its process of meeting the highly qualified teacher requirements as mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

Effective School Leadership. The AEA Division consists of all AEA members who are employed in professional work as superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, director, or in other leadership positions.

Principals should schedule classroom management workshops. The I Can Do It! classroom management program is high on priority lists for Alabama's teachers and administrators. AEA's Education Policy and Professional Development Practice Department (EPPP) present the program at the request of local school principals and have received numerous requests to provide the one-day workshop throughout the state. (AEA Web site)

Professional Development. Recognizing the increasing importance of a close partnership between academia and developers of leading technology, Intergraph offers robust academic programs for higher education.

These programs have been developed in close collaboration with the academic community and are designed to support the advancement of innovative geospatial research and teaching and to ensure the recognition of academic excellence.

At Intergraph, we realize that the future of our organization and that of education are intertwined inexorably, and that through working together, we can build a more solid foundation for advancing the mapping and geospatial industry, thus benefiting all geospatial industry professionals. (Alabama State Department of Education)

Mentoring Programs. The Alabama Education Association (AEA) is committed to working with all members to get them highly qualified (HQ). Updates concerning Alabama teachers reaching HQ status are provided through the Alabama School Journal. Information about obtaining HQ status will be provided at many AEA conferences throughout the school year.

Professional Compensation. The new salary matrix including the 6 percent raise enacted during the 2005 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature is now available.

Source: AEA Web site

Accountability


Statute: Ala. Code § 16-6B-3

State of Alabama does not reward but it sanctions districts on the basis of performance. State sanctions for districts involve the creation and implementation of an improvement plan prepared either by the district or another entity and the possibility of a state take-over of the school district.

The state rewards and also sanctions schools on the basis of performance. Rewards for schools are monetary (not in the form of bonuses) for both absolute and improved performance.  State sanctions on schools include

Alabama  can require the state superintendent of education to have a person or persons run the daily operation of a low-performing school. This policy was enacted as part of the state accountability system that was in place prior to the enactment of NCLB and appears to be unrelated to NCLB's AYP timeline.

Parental Involvement


Each school and school board in Alabama must develop assistance programs for students performing below state standards, with a priority placed on students performing one or more grades below state norms. Funds of at least $100 per student may be expended for a variety of purposes, including programs encouraging the parental involvement of parents of at-risk students (Ala. Code § 16-6B-3). Enacted 1995, amended 2000.  The state also encourages the business community and governmental agencies to give administrative leave to parents for the purpose of parent-teacher conferences and involvement in other educational experiences of the child (Ala. Acts 159). Enacted 1994.

Funding


School funding systems must provide adequate, equitable, and sustainable funding. Making taxes fair and eliminating inefficient and ineffective business subsidies are essential prerequisites to achieving adequacy, equity, and stability in school funding. ESEA programs should be fully funded at their authorized levels.
Alabama has one of the ten most regressive state tax systems in the country . (PDF, 127pp)  (ITEP, 2003)

Recruitment and Retention


Alabama has state policies that support a Troops to Teachers program, The Mathematics and Science Scholarship/Loan Program for Alabama Teachers, and an Alternative Baccalaureate-Level program centered on recruitment and retention. Additional programs offer loan and loan forgiveness options, incentives for attracting teachers to hard-to-staff schools or subject areas, and alternative teacher preparation and licensure policies.

State supported recruitment initiatives:  Military personnel interested in beginning a second career in teaching can enroll in the Troops to Teacher program which provides referral assistance and placement services.
Code of Ala. §16-23-6 
Troops to Teachers, Program Overview
Defense Activities for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), Education Support to the Department of Defense: Worldwide 

Loan and loan forgiveness programs: The Mathematics and Science Scholarship/Loan Program for Alabama Teachers provides up to $2000 for qualified candidates, and one semester of funding will be forgiven for each year that the recipient teaches math or science full-time in a target school system.
Alabama State Department of Education Resolutions, Resolution to Establish Framework for Implementing the Mathematics and Science Scholarship/Loan Program for Alabama Teachers (MSSPAT) 
Code of Ala. §16-6A-14

For hard-to-staff schools or subject areas: Local school boards may hire provisionally certified teachers from business, industry, and other areas who have extensive preparation in the fields of math, science, and computer education. The employment contract is not to exceed three years.
Code of Ala. §16-6A-2 
Code of Ala. §16-6A-10 
Ala. Code §16-23-16.1

For minority teachers: If test results from Alabama' s pre-certification examination indicate that fewer minorities are being licensed to teach, then the state commission shall develop a remedial plan that will be implemented by teacher preparation institutions. 
Ala. Code §16-23-16.1

Alternative teacher preparation programs and/or alternative certification or licensure:  Alabama offers Alternative Baccalaureate-Level programs that help candidates pursue certification in areas such as art, dance, music, and foreign language. Also, the Preliminary Certificate Approach is an additional route to certification which authorizes the state superintendent of education to issue a certificate valid for two years.

Source: NCCTQ