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Regardless of whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a
liberal, all of us want to see improved student achievement year after year
across all grades and in all schools in Alabama.
Attracting and retaining talented educators is a key to achieving that goal so,
in 2015, the Business Education Alliance of Alabama commissioned a research
report titled “Teachers Matter: Rethink-ing How Public Education Recruits, Rewards and Retains
A key section of our report concentrated upon teacher evaluations and compared
Alabama’s meth-odology to those of other states across the nation. We discovered that virtually every state, including ours, uses student
improvement in academic achievement as a portion of their teacher evaluations.
In some states, student achievement counts for as much as half of a teacher’s evaluation, while in Alabama the pilot program that has not been fully
developed comprises just 25 percent, but our study revealed that all states
feel it is integral to the overall score.
Any state utilizing student academic growth for teacher evaluations must have
quality assessments that are fair, relevant and remove any hints of bias.
Alabama currently utilizes three such assessments - the ACT exam given to all
high school students; the ACT Aspire given to all students in grades 3-8; and
the National Assessment of Educational Progress funded by Congress and given to
a fair sampling of students in grades 4 and 8 in all 50 states.
The NAEP is called the “Nation’s Report Card,” and it is the only assessment that measures student progress in every state
against a true national norm, but it cannot be used for teacher evaluation
purposes since it is a “sampling” assessment. The high school ACT and the ACT Aspire can be used for the student academic
growth portion of teacher evaluations, and both are already adopted by the
State Board of Education.
Alabama has a good student assessment program that provides excellent insight
into our areas of strength and areas needing improvement.
The latest ACT results from Alabama high schools show that roughly 16 percent of
our students were ready for college-level coursework by scoring at benchmark
levels in English, mathematics, reading and science. The national average of
students making benchmark scores on the ACT is 28 percent.
The RAISE Act, which stands for “Rewarding Advancement in Instruction and Student Excellence,” is being sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R - Anniston) and
calls for several “firsts” in Alabama while also supporting actions already taken by the State Board of
If enacted into law, the RAISE Act will make first-year teachers the highest
paid in the Southeast and attract more young people to the profession of
teaching, provide funding to a first-year mentoring program to ensure our new
teachers are supported by a veteran teacher, create a rewards program for
entire school faculties which gives incentives for either maintaining or
improving already high quality results or for schools that show notable
improvements in student achievement gains and provide bonuses to teachers who
work in hard-to-staff positions in low performing schools, rural schools or
both. It also changes the length of time provided for new teachers to attain
tenure from the current three years to five.
By combining quality teacher evaluations, a recruitment plan for hard-to-staff
teaching jobs, a program for enhancing first-year teacher success with a
mentoring program, and a school-based rewards program based upon results, the
RAISE Act can build a solid pathway to improved student achievement. If we
continue to implement needed education reforms and innovations like the RAISE
Act in Alabama’s public schools, every student can one day become career and college ready, and
the better prepared workforce that results will allow our state’s economy to continue to grow.
Dr. Joe Morton