This publication brings together a mass of material related to education in Alabama, noting that improvements in the 1918 to 1921 period surpass those between 1890 and the end of World War I. The paragraph below the title page highlights legislative and other actions responsible for such changes in just a few years.
Of course, this report also highlights many problems, from attendance issues to the difference in training for city and rural teachers. The table included below lists the measures Alabama must take to reach national averages. Note the differences in numbers 2 and 3 especially.
Many issues don't seem to have changed much in Alabama education in the past century: funding, teacher training, student participation, etc. The tone of this report is upbeat, but it makes for depressing reading.
An article on public education in the early 20th century in the state is available at the Encyclopedia of Alabama site. Articles on public education in other periods are linked from that one.
The "Ayres' index" mentioned in the paragraph above refers to a method of comparing state school systems devised by Col. Leonard P. Ayres and published in 1920.