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Education officials warned that unless academic programs, including the Alabama Reading Initiative, are fully funded this year, student scores will continue to drop.

Joe Morton -- interim state superintendent of education -- says budget cuts are causing students grades to suffer.

Morton's words came as the state Department of Education released its annual school accountability state report card that grades K-through-12 schools from A to F on more than 30 factors, ranging from academic achievement to financial support.

This is the second year that Alabama didn't receive an overall grade, because the state is broadening its accountability measures to include factors aside from the Stanford Achievement Test.

The 2002-2003 report gave third, fifth, sixth and eighth graders mostly Cs on their results on the Stanford, which evaluates students' reading, language and math skills.

Governor Riley says the solution to falling grades lies in the reading program, which is fully funded in his proposed budget for all Alabama K-3 classes. He says the schools that have employed the program, particularly schools in poorer counties, have shown vast improvement in reading.

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