Alabama recently got some unflattering news about its students’ proficiency, especially in eighth-grade math. The National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP is a standardized test sometimes called “the nation’s report card.” On the 2013 test, Alabama eighth-graders ranked fiftieth out of 52 jurisdictions in mathematics (military-base schools, and those in the District of Columbia, were counted as two additional groups). As with most education topics, though, it’s not quite that simple. Our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen sat down with Alabama School Connection executive director Trisha Powell Crain to go behind the results. She says we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on one data point, or be too surprised at Alabama’s low showing.
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Recently AL.com and WBHM-Birmingham hosted a lunch discussion on the controversy over the Hoover school system’s plan to impose fees on student bus riders. AL.com reporter Jon Anderson and our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen were on hand to facilitate the sometimes heated discussion and answer questions. Afterward, Carsen spoke with WBHM’s News Director Rachel Osier Lindley. To start, Carsen recaps how the situation got to where it is today.
There’s been a victory of sorts for parents whose children ride school buses in Hoover, Alabama. In July, the school board got national attention and angered many residents by voting to scrap the sprawling district’s busing program starting next school year. But after intense community pressure and input from the Justice Department, the board unanimously reversed itself last week. Shortly after, our Alabama reporter Dan Carsen caught up with Trisha Powell Crain, a Hoover parent and longtime education policy writer. Though she has some misgivings, she calls the school-board reversal a good example of what persistent community organizing can accomplish.
Imagine a school in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood – discipline problems, dismal reputation, among the worst test scores in Alabama. That was Mobile’s George Hall Elementary in 2004. Now imagine a school known nationwide for innovative teaching and high performance.That’s George Hall Elementary now. In Part IV of our series on “Turnaround Schools,” we find out how they did it.
Sometimes, poorly run disadvantaged schools defy the statistics and turn themselves around. Sometimes, they can even rise so high they become national models for education in any neighborhood. In the conclusion of our series on “Turnaround Schools,” we pick up the story of an elementary school that did just that. How did it happen? It wasn’t easy, but persistence, teamwork, and a belief in the students won out.
School Superintendents of Alabama is set to announce the state’s Superintendent of the Year, and embattled Birmingham schools chief Craig Witherspoon is among the nine people up for the honor. Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen tells WBHM News Director Tanya Ott about that, some moves toward new tests for the state’s graduating seniors, and a grade-changing scandal in Montgomery high schools.
Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen recently appeared as a guest journalist on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” a highly-regarded program that analyzes the biggest stories coming out of that state. Dan was brought on to discuss the state takeover of Birmingham City Schools, a fast-moving, far-reaching story that continues to unfold.
One round of testimony is over, but the long road to legal closure in the battle over Birmingham Schools is not. At least not yet. After two sometimes arcane, sometimes fiery days of testimony, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Houston Brown on Thursday extended two temporary injunctions against the Birmingham Board of Education by 10 days or until further notice. He could make a permanent ruling next week.