Dog ate state’s homework

The Alabama State Board of Education still hasn’t formally set the score this year’s third graders will need to obtain in reading on a standardized test to earn promotion, and the delay is unacceptable.

Local educators need to know the cutoff score that’ll be used when third graders take the Alabama Comprehensive Assessment Program in the spring so that remediation efforts can be targeted. It’s almost as if the state school board is dilly-dallying to force the Legislature and governor to delay the 2019 Literacy Act requirement that beginning in 2022 third graders must be reading at grade level to be promoted.

The state also hasn’t released the 2021 reading scores for individual districts so that communities know how this academic year’s third graders performed as second graders. This information can guide the community to address the reading needs of its third graders.

It’s disappointing that educators at the state level haven’t acted in a timely manner when in a classroom they’d expect prompt completion of an assignment — even if “the dog ate it.”

Farming skills and more

Brewer High’s Future Farmers of America team made it to the national livestock judging competition that begins today in Indianapolis after winning a state competition in March and a 4H competition in June.

While the early parts of the competition have been virtual this year, the judging this week in Indianapolis will be live and FFA members will judge animals that farmers bring in from across the country.

In addition to learning what makes quality livestock, the team members have learned how to explain their reasoning, which will benefit them no matter what careers they pursue. They’ve also developed lifetime soft skills such as punctuality, organization and collaboration.

FFA is a 100-year-old student-led organization that helps students from grades 7 through college to develop skills in the agriculture industry.

It’s commendable that Brewer and adviser Josh Melson provide a quality FFA program and that the students have the drive to achieve. Good luck to the Brewer FFA in Indianapolis.

Taking action

Barely half of Alabama’s third graders and eighth graders scored as proficient in English Language Arts on the new standardized test given in the spring, but they did even worse in math. Just 30% of the state’s third graders tested proficient in math.

Among eighth graders, just 14% tested proficient in math.

Knowing the scores were low after a year of pandemic-hampered learning is one thing, but doing something to remedy the problem is another.

State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said Thursday that he plans on introducing a bill for next year’s regular legislative session to address the state’s low math scores. He said he has been working with math and education professionals for about six months on the bill.

Details are not yet available, but we hope the bill will include realistic ways to actually achieve results. Orr said the goal is to get students math proficient by the time they leave the fifth grade.

We have high hopes for this. We hope Orr can gain support for his bill.

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