Report: Alabama Public Schools Show Improvement

"We are headed in the right direction in public education," says Dr. Joseph Morton, Alabama's State Superintendent of Education.

This week marked a fresh start for students and teachers returning to school, heralded with encouraging news in the 2006 Quality Counts Report. Alabama scored a "B" in the standards and accountability category, slightly above the national average.

Morton attributes this grade to the state's graduation requirements and the Alabama math and science initiatives. However, Alabama didn't score so well when it came to school climate. We brought home a "C-" on our report card, slightly below the national average.

Morton says, "We have four things that we've identified as real critical in Alabama. One of those is that every child attend a safe and well-disciplined school."

Educators have their work cut out for them with overcrowded classrooms and increasingly limited ways they can discipline misbehavior. Morton believes the solution to school safety is the same solution to many of the other obstacles.

"I think it is absolutely critical," Morton explains, "that we continue to do everything possible to involve parents in their children's education."

Morton also says Alabama won't be making any drastic changes to chase after higher scores on this report alone, but rather stick to the plan for success the board has already sketched that's already yielding positive results.

Morton adds, "We have a solid cohesive plan for improving education in this state and it will weather all of the reports because its going to send us on an upward path to improvement."

The 2006 Quality Counts report, issued annually by Education Week , is one of many different evaluations of schools nationwide. One thing you should keep in mind is each of these kinds of reports have different sets of criteria for the data it evaluates.

For example, last year, Newsweek magazine ranked Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, AL as the best public high school in the country, but that ranking was based solely on the number of students enrolled in advanced placement classes and taking the AP exam.

The report card also points out Alabama is ranked 10th in the nation for the number of teachers who are national board certified.

Reporter: Theo Travers