Public education in Alabama

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K-12 Education in Alabama
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Education facts
State Superintendent: Tommy Bice
Number of students: 744,621[1]
Number of teachers: 47,723
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:15.6
Number of school districts: 170
Number of schools: 1,618
Graduation rate: 75%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $8,813[3]
See also
Alabama Department of Education
Alabama school districts
List of school districts in Alabama
Alabama
School boards portal
Policypedia
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Education policy project
Public education in the United States
Public education in Alabama
Glossary of education terms
Note: The statistics on this page are mainly from government sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. Figures given are the most recent as of June 2014, with school years noted in the text or footnotes.
The Alabama public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards and superintendents. In 2012 Alabama had 744,621 students enrolled in a total of 1,618 schools in 170 school districts. There were 47,723 teachers in the public schools, or roughly one teacher for every 16 students, which is on par with the national average of 1:16. There is roughly one administrator for every 294 students, which is also on par with the national average of one administrator for every 295 students.[4] On average Alabama spent $8,813 per pupil in 2011, which ranks it 40th highest in the nation. The state's high school graduation rate was 75 percent in 2012.

State agencies

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State Education Departments

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See also
Alabama Superintendent of Education
Alabama school districts
List of school districts in Alabama
Public education in Alabama
School board elections portal
The Alabama Department of Education is the state education agency of Alabama. The current State Superintendent of Education is Thomas R. Bice.[5]

The State Board of Education is comprised of nine board members. The Governor serves as President (and ex officio member) and the eight remaining members are elected.[6]

The mission statement of the Alabama State Board of Education reads:[7]

To provide a state system of education which is committed to academic excellence and which provides education of the highest quality to all Alabama students, preparing them for the 21st century.[8]

Common Core

Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Alabama Department of Education adopted the standards on November 18, 2010. Full implementation is scheduled to be achieved in the 2014-2015 academic year.[9][10]

Regional comparison

See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states

The following chart shows how Alabama compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.

Regional comparison
State Schools Districts Students Teachers Teacher/pupil ratio Administrator/pupil ratio Per pupil spending
Alabama 1,618 170 744,621 47,723 1:15.6 1:293.5 $8,813
Tennessee 1,802 140 999,693 66,382 1:15.1 1:293.2 $8,242
Georgia 2,388 216 1,685,016 111,133 1:15.2 1:274.9 $9,253
Mississippi 1,069 163 490,619 32,007 1:15.3 1:251 $7,928
United States 98,328 17,992 49,521,669 3,103,263 1:16 1:295.2 $10,994
Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.

National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013

Demographics

See also: Demographic information for all students in all 50 states

The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Alabama as reported in the Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.[11]


Demographic information for Alabama's K-12 public school system compared with surrounding states
State American Indian/Alaska Native Asian/Pacific Islander Black Hispanic White Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl Other
Alabama 0.83% 1.34% 34.18% 4.66% 58.11% 0.04% 0.84%
Tennessee 0.19% 1.66% 23.34% 6.63% 67.08% 0.1% 1%
Georgia 0.22% 3.39% 37.01% 12.18% 44.11% 0.11% 2.98%
Mississippi 0.2% 0.95% 49.62% 2.57% 46.01% 0.03% 0.62%
United States 1.1% 4.68% 15.68% 24.37% 51.21% 0.42% 2.54%
U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.[12]


Enrollments by region type

See also: Student distribution by region type in the U.S.

A plurality of students in Alabama attend rural schools. More than 62 percent of the state's students attend rural or town schools, compared to approximately 38 percent who attend city or suburban schools.

Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)[13]
State City schools Suburban schools Town schools Rural Schools
Alabama 20.6% 16.9% 14.4% 48%
Tennessee 29.8% 16.1% 14% 40.2%
Georgia 14% 38% 9.9% 38%
Mississippi 10% 8.9% 28.9% 52.2%
U.S. average 28.9% 34% 11.6% 25.4%
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)

Academic performance

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Education policy terms
Academic bankruptcyAcademic EarthAcademic performanceBlaine AmendmentCharter schoolsCommon CoreDropout rateNAEPProgressive educationRegulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation RateSchool vouchersTeacher merit pay
See also

NAEP scores

See also: NAEP scores by state for a full comparison of all states

The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Tennessee, Georgia, and Mississippi), Alabama'a eighth grade students fared the worst in mathematics, with only 20 percent scoring at or above proficient, according to the NAEP. See the table and chart below for a full comparison.[14]

Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013
Math - Grade 4 Math - Grade 8 Reading - Grade 4 Reading - Grade 8
Alabama 30 20 31 25
Tennessee 40 28 34 33
Georgia 39 29 34 32
Mississippi 26 21 21 20
U.S. average 41 34 34 34
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013

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Graduation rate and ACT/SAT scores

See also: Graduation rates by groups in state
See also: ACT and SAT scores in the U.S.

The following table shows the graduation rates and average composite ACT and SAT scores for Alabama and surrounding states.[14][15][16]

Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*
State Graduation rate, 2012 Average ACT Composite, 2012 Average SAT Composite, 2013
Percent Quintile ranking** Score Participation rate Score Participation rate
Alabama 75% Fourth 20.3 86% 1,608 7%
Tennessee 87% First 19.7 100% 1,709 8%
Georgia 70% Fifth 20.7 52% 1,452 75%
Mississippi 75% Fourth 18.7 100% 1,673 3%
United States 80% 21.1 1,498
*Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express

Dropout rate

See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states

The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Alabama was lower than the national average at 1.4 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 1.4 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.[17]

Educational choice options

See also: School choice in Alabama

School choice options in Alabama include: tax credits and online learning opportunities. The state is one of only eight that has not enacted charter school legislation. In addition, about 9.87 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.

Developments

2013

On March 14, 2013, Governor Robert Bentley signed into law the Alabama Accountability Act. The bill gives tax credits to parents who wish to transfer their children from a failing public school district to another public or private school. The state legislature, which was controlled by Republicans, passed the bill on February 28, 2014. After signing the bill, Bentley said, "For the first time ever, we're giving all public schools the flexibility they need to better serve their students."[18]

Democrats and teacher advocacy groups contended that bill as passed had undergone significant alterations when it went to a conference committee, "transforming it from a measure allowing flexibility to school districts into a school choice bill." Political reporter Kyle Whitmire, from The Birmingham News, said that some were concerned the legislation could result in a "brain drain, that sort of concentrates your most challenged students in school systems that are already having problems. This could really create problems on both sides, for successful school systems that suddenly might be flooded with students and with failing school systems that already have problems."[18]

2014

On April 2, 2014, Alabama enacted Senate Bill 38, which expressly recognizes home instruction by someone other than a state-certified private tutor as an option for complying with the compulsory attendance requirements and redefines a church school to include either on-site or home programs. The legislation also forbids state higher education institutions from discriminating against home-schooled applicants, and states that nonpublic schools are not subject to licensure or regulation by the state or any of its political subdivisions, including the Alabama Department of Education.[19]

Education funding and expenditures

See also: Alabama state budget
Breakdown of expenditures by function in FY 2012.
Source: National Association of State Budget Officers

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 21 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is up 7.2 percentage points, or 52.5 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent just under 14 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.[13][20][21][22][23]

Comparison of financial figures for school systems
State Percent of budget (2012) Per pupil spending (2011) Revenue sources (2011)
Percent federal funds Percent state funds Percent local funds
Alabama 20.9% $8,813 14.6% 53.77% 31.63%
Tennessee 17.7% $8,242 14.72% 45.75% 39.53%
Georgia 24% $9,253 12.57% 41.58% 45.85%
Mississippi 16.9% $7,928 22.33% 45.95% 31.72%
Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013

Revenue breakdowns

See also: Public school system revenues in the U.S. to compare all states.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues totaled approximately $7.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Alabama and surrounding states.[24]

Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)
Federal revenue State revenue Local revenue Total revenue
Alabama $1,077,070 $3,965,614 $2,332,472 $7,375,156
Tennessee $1,272,825 $3,955,476 $3,417,293 $8,645,594
Georgia $2,267,612 $7,499,327 $8,268,366 $18,035,305
Mississippi $1,006,465 $2,071,467 $1,429,770 $4,507,702
U.S. total $74,943,767 $267,762,416 $264,550,594 $607,256,777
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)

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Expenditure breakdowns

See also: Public school system expenditures in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures totaled approximately $7.4 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Alabama and surrounding states.[24]

Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)
Current expenditures Capital outlay Other Total expenditures
Alabama $6,582,496 $564,183 $255,905 $7,402,584
Tennessee $7,977,696 $661,195 $295,742 $8,934,633
Georgia $15,465,308 $1,368,403 $291,801 $17,125,512
Mississippi $3,888,831 $368,906 $88,046 $4,345,783
U.S. total $520,577,893 $52,984,139 $29,581,293 $603,143,325
**Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)

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Personnel salaries

See also: Public school teacher salaries in the U.S.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Alabama, the average salary declined by 4.4 percent.[25]

Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)
1999-2000 2009-2010 2011-2012 2012-2013 Percent difference
Alabama $50,139 $50,779 $48,802 $47,949 -4.4%
Tennessee $49,645 $49,412 $47,866 $48,289 -2.7%
Georgia $56,062 $56,694 $53,819 $52,880 -5.7%
Mississippi $43,535 $48,722 $42,339 $41,994 -3.5%
U.S. average $57,133 $58,925 $56,340 $56,383 -1.3%
**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."

The following table details the fiscal year 2014 salary schedule for classroom teachers in Alabama. Salaries listed are the minimums for each pay grade and experience bracket.[26]

Organizations

Unions

In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Alabama ranked 20th overall, or "strong," which was in the second of five tiers.[27]

The main union related to the Alabama public school system is the Alabama Education Association (AEA), an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA). For the 2003 tax period AEA had: $16.0 million in total revenue, $16.2 million in total expenses and $18.1 million in total assets.[28]

List of local Alabama school unions:[29]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Alabama government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Alabama School Boards Association.

Transparency

Alabama Policy Institute (API), a non-profit organization, conducts research on education and transparency throughout the state. In 2007 the group published a piece called, "Alabama's Public Education Funding Dilemma: Does Funding Influence Outcomes?" The article focused on drawing a connection between state funding and education progress. The article analyzed dropout rates, readiness for the workforce and/or college and academic proficiency.

On February 11, 2009, Governor Bob Riley signed an Executive Order to create a state spending database.[30] The order mandated that the site, to be operated by the state Department of Finance, be operational by March 1, 2009. The site can be accessed here.

Education ballot measures

See also: Education on the ballot and List of Alabama ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked 10 statewide ballot measures relating to education.

  1. Alabama Amendment 1 (2003)
  2. Alabama Board of Education Expenditure Increase, Amendment 4 (2014)
  3. Alabama Excellence Initiative Fund, Amendment 1 (September 2003)
  4. Alabama Macon County Board of Education Elections, Amendment 3 (2006)
  5. Alabama Popular Election of City Boards of Education, Amendment 3 (1999)
  6. Alabama Popular Election of City Boards of Education, Amendment 3 (October 1999)
  7. Alabama School District Property Tax, Amendment 2 (2006)
  8. Alabama Segregation Reference Ban Amendment, Amendment 4 (2012)
  9. Alabama Separation of Schools, Amendment 2 (2004)
  10. Alabama Special County Educational Tax Amendment, Amendment 2 (2010)

Studies and reports

State Budget Solutions study

State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study showed that states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.

See also

External links

Additional reading

References

  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
  5. Alabama State Department of Education, "Education Directory," accessed May 12, 2014
  6. Alabama State Board of Education, "Administrative Code: Chapter 290-010-010," accessed May 12, 2014
  7. Alabama State Department of Education, "Alabama's Education Report Card 2011-2012," accessed May 12, 2014
  8. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  9. Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State,” accessed June 12, 2014
  10. Alabama Education News, "Raising Expectations: Common Core Standards in Alabama," January/February 2011
  11. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
  12. [ http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/elsi/expressTables.aspx U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a. accessed May 15, 2014]
  13. 13.0 13.1 National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
  15. ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
  16. Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
  17. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 NPR.org, "Alabama's Governor Signs Education Bill Allowing School Choice," March 14, 2013
  19. Home School Legal Defense Association, "New Law Recognizes Home Instruction," accessed May 22, 2104
  20. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
  21. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
  22. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
  23. National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014
  25. United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
  26. Alabama State Department of Education, "State Minimum Salary Schedule - Classroom Teachers," accessed May 12, 2014
  27. Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
  28. Center for Union Facts, "Alabama Education Association," accessed September 2, 2009
  29. Center for Union Facts, "Alabama teachers unions," accessed September 2, 2009 (dead link)
  30. AL.com, "Ala. governor signs order on state spending," February 11, 2009