Kay Ivey introduces new education initiatives

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On Friday, Gov. Kay Ivey announced that she will be adding several new education initiatives to her already thriving “Strong Start, Strong Finish” initiative.

Strong Start Strong FinishThe new policies include: the Alabama Grade-Level Reading Campaign, Strong Families = A Strong Start, Attendance Works for Alabama, and the Alabama Summer Achievement Program (ASAP).

“Alabama is known throughout the country for the quality of our voluntary First-Class Pre-K Program. We must ensure that the gains we are making in Pre-K are continuing into elementary school and beyond” said Ivey.

In Alabama only 35 percent of third graders are proficient readers. In third grade, students move from learning how to read to reading to learn. Students who fail to grasp this critical concept often fall behind and drop out before earning a high school diploma. The “Alabama Grade-Reading Campaign” seeks to change that statistic through school readiness programs, improving the Alabama Reading Initiative, summer learning opportunities, and by preventing chronic absenteeism for K-3 students. 

The “Strong Families=A Strong Start” campaign will focus it’s efforts on increasing family engagement in early childhood education and as a result decreasing the school readiness gap facing low-income children. The program will encourage home-visiting programs which will assist parents in becoming “first teachers” for their children at home. 

According to Alabama School Connection, “Nearly 93,000 students in Alabama’s public schools missed 15 or more days of school during the 2013-2014 school year.” In Alabama, these students are considered chronically absent, and those in K-3 who miss 10 percent or more of classes have low academic performance. To combat this issue Ivey has announced the “Attendance Works for Alabama” initiative which will call attention to how harmful student’s missing school is.

Ivey has also added the “Alabama Summer Achievement Program” to prevent the backsliding that often occurs over the summer for children in low-income families. The program will ensure that students who are reading below grade proficiency in grades 1-3 will have a chance to catch up over the summer through a six week program.

“We have hardworking teachers and students who want to learn, but there is no question we must improve the quality of education in Alabama,” Ivey added. “By working together, we can and must help our children reach their highest potential – our future depends on it.”