Academic Achievement

Despite improvement since our last report, student performance in Alabama is very weak—the state ranks among the lowest in the nation. Only 20% of 8th graders are deemed proficient or above on the NAEP math exam. The national average is 34%.

Academic Achievement for Low-Income and Minority Students

Alabama earns a failing grade on academic achievement for low-income and minority students. For both African-American and Hispanic 8th grade students, only 6% score at or above the proficient level on the NAEP math exam.

Return on Investment

Student achievement in Alabama is very low relative to state spending after controlling for cost of living. 

Truth in Advertising: Student Proficiency

Alabama posts very poor marks on the credibility of its student proficiency scores. The grade is based on the difference between the percentage of students identified as proficient in reading and math on the 2011 state exams and the percentage identified as proficient on the 2011 NAEP reading and math tests.

Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness

Alabama earns a failing grade preparing its students for college and careers. Only 75% of 9th grade students receive a diploma in four years, and a mere 11 students out of 100 pass an AP exam. 

21st Century Teacher Force

Alabama does an average job of creating a strong teacher workforce. The Yellowhammer State does well training teachers and providing alternative routes for teacher certification, but it does very poorly identifying and retaining effective teachers and removing ineffective ones. 

Parental Options

Alabama does a very poor job providing parents with strong school choice options. The state is one of only eight in the country with no charter school law and has limited choice options.

Data Quality

Alabama earns a failing grade collecting and reporting high-quality education data. The state does not ensure that data can be effectively accessed and used by stakeholders. 


Alabama receives a very poor grade employing technology to provide quality instruction and personalized learning. Students have limited access to high-quality digital learning options. 

International Competitiveness

Alabama earns a very low grade preparing its students to compete in a global economy. Only about 20% of students are proficient in reading and math compared with an international standard, and only 6 students out of 1,000 pass an AP foreign language exam.

Fiscal Responsibility

Alabama receives above average marks on fiscal responsibility. Two-thirds of the state’s pension is funded, and the state’s most recent pension contribution was 100%.