Based on the policies and goals of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA), this study reviews how educators in the state of Alabama have addressed the many critical issues posed by this Presidential directive. Challenges such as certification, competency, quality of instruction, teacher training, and funding are discussed. Several state legislative initiatives that serve as drawbacks to meeting the requirements of NCLBA were noted.
On June 10, 2003, President Bush announced that every state had to have an accountability plan in place that strives to achieve the goals set forth by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA). When President Bush took office, only 11 states were in compliance. In fact, Alabama was one of the last of the 17 states to have their accountability plan approved by the federal government. Under the plan Alabama had to describe how every student would achieve academic proficiency, regardless of the academic or economic level of the student (U.S. Department of Education, 2003).
Alabama, along with the other 49 states, is responsible for submitting an annual progress report every summer between 2003 and 2006 to document the state's progress in meeting the requirement of every child being taught by a highly qualified teacher (Education News in Alabama, 2003a). The Alabama Association of School Administrators estimates that 15% of the current teachers in the state do not meet the highly qualified standards; it was originally predicted that 40% of the current teachers would not meet the standards (Education News in Alabama, 2003b). Of these estimated 15%, there are two groups. The first group is comprised of teachers who are not teaching in their field. The second group identifies those who lack one or two college credits in their core subject area (Education News in Alabama, 2003c).
The Alabama State Department of Education issues teacher certificates at three levels to individuals who have received a degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education and completed a teacher education program approved by the state. The Class B certificate is awarded to those individuals who have completed a baccalaureate degree, Class A is given to those individuals that have completed a master's degree, and a Class AA is given to those graduates who have earned a sixth year degree or an educational specialist degree. During the last 19 years, perspective teachers enrolled in teacher preparation programs in Alabama were not required to pass a subject-specific test to receive certification. As of December 2002, prospective teachers have been given the Alabama Prospective Teacher Test (APTT). Prospective teachers must pass all three sections of the APTT and there is no limit to the number of times the test can be taken. Proficiency in applied reading for information, applied mathematics, and writing will have to be demonstrated for teacher certification. Also, applicants for alternative and preliminary certificates and applicants reinstating Professional Educator Certificates in teaching fields that have lapsed for more than six months from their expiration dates are required to pass the APTT. If an individual fails a portion of the test, the individual may be eligible for a compensation model. In this model an individual's grade point average (GPA) is combined with the test score. If an individual's test scores and GPA still do not meet passing requirements a remediation course designed by the state may satisfy requirements. However, some universities in the state require students to pass all portions of the test before graduation (Alabama Department of Education, 2003; Alabama Education News, 2003b).
The Alabama Department of Education issues emergency certificates. These certificates have been found not to meet the requirement set forth by NCLBA. The state department also issues three alternative route certificates that do not meet the NCLBA criteria: the Alternative Baccalaureate-Level Certificate, the Special Alternative Certificate, and the Preliminary Certificate (Alabama Education News, 2003b). …