State Of Education00000000

Each year, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama presents the latest research regarding funding and performance for the Tuscaloosa City and County school systems. But this year there was something new.

The superintendents for Tuscaloosa City and Tuscaloosa County presented their findings together.

State Superintendent Michael Sentance said their presentation showed just how passionate the superintendents are about the students they serve.

“They know the depths of their issues,” Sentance said. “They are going at those issues with the kind of creativity and courage that it needs to try to change things here.”

One thing that needs changing? Students’ reading skills. Only 39 percent of Tuscaloosa City Schools students are proficient in reading by the third grade.

Increasing that number is City Schools Superintendent Mike Daria’s top priority.

“We know that if a student is not reading before third grade, all the learning that takes place after that is at risk,” he said. “We are putting our resources, our efforts and energy into pre-k kindergarten, first- and second-grade reading.”

For Tuscaloosa County, there’s Superintendent Walter Davie said there’s an emphasis being placed on closing the gap between students living in poverty and their peers.

“We have students who have not had the background knowledge or experience that so many other students have,” he said. “So trying to close that gap for those students and accelerate learning for them is a key component of what we are working on.”

But they didn’t just focus on the negative. There’s been progress in several other areas.

“One of the pieces we did was brought in Math Solutions, a company that coaches in all of our middle school classrooms,” Davie said. “And we saw a great benefit from that with our math scores.”

Daria said it’s important to have qualified teachers, and said the city has more than 100 teachers going through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

“This is not a city school thing or a county school thing,” Daria said. “This is a Tuscaloosa thing, and we think it’s important to work together.”



Read the entirety of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s findings below.



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