Students currently enrolled in Alabama schools are outperforming their counterparts from 2005, suggests the 2017 Alabama Kids Count Data Book – Education Supplement.
The supplemental report, released Tuesday by VOICES for Alabama’s Children, a nonprofit that advocates for child well-being in the Yellowhammer State, includes state and county data highlights on 20 key education indicators. It also includes a breakdown of these data indicators according to students living in poverty and those living above the poverty line, which is new to this year’s report.
The supplement revealed state investments in early childhood education are making an impact on student performance in the later grades. Since 2008, enrollment in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program has grown by over 400 percent. As a result, the increased number of students entering school ready to learn has resulted in fewer students needing to repeat the first grade and more students reading on a proficient level by the fourth grade. In the secondary grades, fewer students are repeating the ninth grade, dropping out of high school or engaging in risky behavior such as drug abuse and teenage pregnancy.
“Alabama students have more opportunities for success today than in recent years, however, we are still lagging behind the rest of the country in improved education outcomes,” said Rhonda Mann, deputy director of VOICES for Alabama’s Children. “The Alabama Kids Count Data Book reveals a number of areas in education where investments are making a difference, and with continued support could improve student outcomes even more.”
The report also reveals students living in poverty are falling behind their counterparts — they are more likely to repeat the ninth grade, miss more than 18 days during the school year and, ultimately, drop out.
“The Alabama Kids Count Data Book reveals that poverty is the biggest barrier to student success, and unfortunately the academic achievement gap between those living in poverty and those who do not is growing,” said Rhonda Mann.