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Alabama schools superintendent excited for future, progress beyond pandemic

Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 4:29 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Things are looking brighter for the Alabama State Department of Education.

“Yeah, well a year ago this meeting was absolutely the low point, and I would say probably the low point of my career,” Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said at Thursday’s meeting. “I mean, I was at home quarantining. The governor was in her office; we were having a virtual meeting, trying to keep our schools open. The numbers of cases at that time were at an all-time high,” he explained in regard to COVID-19 cases.

He added that this year, progress is being made.

“We’ve got all of our schools back open, students learning, and so I’m very excited about where we are today and the great progress being made in our schools since last year and excited for the spring semester and the years to come. I think we learned a lot over this past year,” Mackey said. “Things are certainly much brighter today.”

The board is focusing on making sure every child can read. Mackey said some students fell behind during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know some students got behind during the pandemic, not all students did, but some did. So, we have to find out where those learning gaps are and fill those in,” he said.

Another subject the board is focusing on is math.

“We’re certainly intensely focused on conceptional math and making sure that students not just can work out problems, that’s one part of math but that’s just the most basic component. Math is about application and being able to understand it at a conceptual level, so we’re going to continue to focus on that and teacher-professional development,” Mackey added.

ALSDE is also going to work on graduating all students.

In 2019, the state reported 92% of high school seniors graduated. That’s the state’s all-time high. However, the rate slipped a little bit during the pandemic, according to Mackey.

“We want to get that back up. And we want all of our students to graduate with a college career ready credential, and that’s been a goal for several years. We’re number seven in the nation, but we’re not going to rest on that. We want to be number one in the nation,” Mackey said.

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