Alabama has once again shown marked improvement in education quality and now ranks above the national average for the first time in the latest Education Week "Quality Counts" report.
The report, dubbed by Education Week as the most comprehensive ongoing assessment of the state of American education, ranked Alabama 25th among all states and the District of Columbia for overall grades and scores on the report card. This is the first time Alabama has ever ranked ahead of the national average in the overall education quality. Last year, Alabama ranked 31st in the Education Week "Quality Counts" report.
Governor Riley praised teachers, administrators and education policy makers for their hard work and commitment to raising the standard of education quality in Alabama.
"For most of my lifetime, Alabama has never ranked higher than the upper 40s in education," Governor Riley said. "It had almost become accepted that Alabama would be on the bottom rung of the latter when it came to education. Once we began to institute truly meaningful reforms in our schools, we started to climb our way up the rankings, first into the 30s and now into the 20s. Without a doubt, this report shows Alabama is headed in the right direction when it comes to reforming education. I'd like to thank all of our educators and especially our teachers for the work they've done to earn this success. We challenged our teachers to change their approach with innovative strategies and they have responded brilliantly. I particularly want to thank Dr. Joe Morton, the best superintendent in America today, for his unyielding determination to reform our education system. I also want to commend my fellow State Board of Education members for their courageous embrace of policies that have changed education in Alabama for the better."
Alabama received particularly high marks in three categories:
- A- for standards, assessments and accountability (12th in the nation)
- B- for transitions and alignment between Pre-K, K-12, higher education and workforce development (14th in the nation)
- C+ for standards, support and accountability of the teaching profession (18th in the nation)
Whereas Alabama had fallen desperately behind in education progress in the past, today Alabama students are outpacing the rest of the nation in improvements in Reading, Math and Science scores and Alabama ranked 4th nationally in gains in the graduation rate between 2002 and 2008. That's thanks to the implementation and expansion of proven education programs like the Alabama Reading Initiative, the Math, Science and Technology Initiative, First Class Pre-K and ACCESS Distance Learning – all of which are reforming how Alabama teachers teach and how Alabama students learn.
"While we are thrilled to improve our ranking and finally get above the national average, we cannot become complacent. This is no time to slow down. I encourage the incoming administration and the new Legislature to continue moving Alabama forward in education by building on the reforms we've implemented and finding new ways to make our school system truly world-class."
To view the interactive "Quality Counts" report, visit www.edweek.org.