Board of Education member gives us Alabama’s report card

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – One of the most important things to the State of Alabama is the State Education System.  Mary Scott Hunter has served on the Alabama Board of Education for five years.  This week she stopped by WHNT News 19 to give us an update on how the schools in this state are doing.

Though the year 2015 is almost done, the school year is only half over and the education situation is looking good.  Hunter feels that, “k-12 is improving.  Is it improving as fast and as quickly as we’d like?  No it never does.  But, we do have good news stories, for example our graduation rate is on the rise.  We’ve gone from the low 70s for our graduation rates percentage wise to 86-percent this last year that we checked it.  And that’s a good news story, but of course it’s not enough to just graduate.  Our students need to graduate prepared, so now we’re doubling down on quality.  We’ve been working on the quality of our graduates and the quality of our education for years now, but now it’s really time to start to not just seeing the graduation rates rising, but the quality of of our graduates rising.”

Test scores are one way to measure how well the student body is learning.  And according to Mary Scott Hunter, “the results are good on balance.  As I looked at those test scores I wished for more, that’s my personality, that’s my goal.  Across the state it is a good news story in most areas.  We saw a few down ticks and a few flat lines, but for the most part it was a good news story.  And that’s good, but we can’t rest, we have to keep going.”

Just how are Alabama’s test scores measuring up?  Alabama historically has not scored well against the national benchmark for testing guidelines.  Mary Scott Hunter says that, “In math we are lagging, and we have been historically.  It’s difficult to teach math because we have our teachers that came through the same school system that I did.  We just didn’t historically teach math as well as we needed to.  So we have a generation of students and parents who are at home trying to help with homework, who are themselves not very knowledgeable.  We have the same number of talents and abilities in this state that every other country and every other nation and every other state has, but we have for a very long time under sold ourselves in terms of rigor.  We have not required enough of students for not just this generation, but for many generations and that shows over time.  In reading we have been doing better, and I think it speaks to the Alabama reading initiative.  The good news there is we know we can do it.  The even better news is that we have a strategic plan, plan 2020, to address all sorts of gains and goals that we want to meet, and in the next couple of years.”

Watch our entire conversation with Mary Scott Hunter here in three parts: