Bill would make college or career readiness an Alabama graduation requirement

By: - March 21, 2023 6:55 am
A woman with her arms folded smiles as she speaks to a colleague on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives.

Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, speaks with a colleague prior to the start of a session of the Alabama House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. (Stew Milne for Alabama Reflector)

An Alabama lawmaker has filed a bill to require public schools to more closely monitor students’ readiness for work and higher education.

The following are considered college and career readiness indicators by the Alabama State Department of Education:

  • A benchmark score for any subject area of the ACT 
  • A three or higher (passing score) on an Advanced Placement (A.P.) exam 
  • An eligible score on an International Baccalaureate (I.B.) exam
  • A college credit through dual enrollment classes 
  • A silver or higher on the ACT WorkKeys Exam 
  • An apprenticeship program 
  • An industry recognized credential 
  • A military acceptance to any branch
  • A career and technical education course of study 
  • Any other college and readiness indicator approved by the State Board of Education

The bill, HB 109, would make a college and career readiness indicator a graduation requirement and would establish the “Alabama Terminal on Linking and Analyzing Statistics (ATLAS) on Career Pathways Act,” which allows students and families to look at job information. Business leaders will also create a registry of in-demand jobs.

“A student would have to have a college or career indicator,” Collins said. “So, either they’re ready to go to college or they’re ready to go to career.”

College and career ready indicators include scores on standardized tests; completion of dual enrollment courses with a college or university, and career and technical courses or credentials, including apprenticeship programs.

The Alabama State Department of Education passed a resolution in November that requires a college and career readiness indicator as a graduation requirement. The board’s resolution requires it for students who graduate in the 2027-28 school year, while this bill would move the requirement up to the 2024-2025 school year.

The bill covers policies and actions already in place. Tim McCartney, chair of the Alabama Workforce Council, said they wanted to make sure that everything was codified before there is a change in the administration.

“There’s nothing new in the bill,” he said. “It’s all about sustainability.” 

Collins said that she wants students in Alabama to be ready for college, a career or “whatever they choose” after they graduate high school.

She said she doesn’t think that’s true at the moment.

“I think that we’re raising our high school graduation rates,” she said. “But, if you look at the percentage that have a college or career indicator versus the graduation rate, we need to close that gap.”

McCartney echoed similar sentiments about needing to strengthen the graduation requirements.

“We want to make our high school diplomas worth something worth the paper they’re written out,” McCartney said. “And, frankly, right now it’s not fully that way.” 

Alabama has a 92% high school graduation rate, according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. 76% of students completed a college and career readiness indicator.

Governor [Kay] Ivey has long made workforce development a priority, and we look forward to watching the legislative process continue,” said Gina Maiola, communications director for the Governor’s Office, in an email.

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Jemma Stephenson
Jemma Stephenson

Jemma Stephenson covers education as a reporter for the Alabama Reflector. She previously worked at the Montgomery Advertiser and graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.