When it comes to specifics about the Alabama College & Career Ready standards  (wrongly described as Common Core by many),  I would be hard-pressed to elaborate.  However, I have educator friends all over Alabama whom I respect and trust and who do understand the specifics and I don’t hesitate to turn to them for information.

Like when I see articles like this that offer up mis-leading headlines and not much else.  In this case the headline blares, Support for Common Core is Plummeting Among Teachers.  So I immediately read the article to find out how many teachers were interviewed, what did they say, etc.  Guess what.  ZERO.

In fact, though this is an Alabama publication that even has Alabama in its title, this is not a story about Alabama.  Instead, it is about a national poll done by a national publication and the only person quoted is my friend Ann Eubank with the Rainy Day Patriots.

What is even more interesting is that the same poll also shows that support for charters schools is declining, as is tax credits for scholarships (can you say Alabama Accountability Act?) and vouchers.  Funny this was not mentioned.

So is support for the Alabama College & Career Ready standards decreasing?  To find out, I did as I normally do and called on folks who are far more knowledgeable that I am about such, and folks who actually work with students, teachers and schools every day.

An Alabama Teacher of the Year said: “All I can say is that our teachers have seen tremendous growth with their students.  We recently highlighted Teacher Champions and asked them about the College and Career Standards…every one of them said they like the standards.”

A superintendent stated: “Our system continues to stand by the college and career ready standards as meaningful and appropriate for preparing students.  The standards are rigorous and certainly require critical thinking and analysis of information.  Both are skills that are needed in the future workplace and in college.”  

A principal of many years explained: ” Any teacher who has truly tried to implement the standards through quality instruction and has been supplied with books and resources to correlate with the ACCR will see great results.  

I  see them because I have followed my daughter’s thinking process her fourth through sixth grade years (implementation of math
and reading).  She can often solve multi-step math problems, that are quite difficult, in her head.  She is able to make connections across different texts and combine information to solve actual problems.  She would not have received this kind of knowledge with the same instruction and standards before Alabama College & Career Ready standards came along.

A teacher’s daughter graduated a few years ago from high school.   She is in college at UAB in the  medical field.  Extremely intelligent.  She will probably be a surgeon.  She told me that that had she been taught with these new standards she would be much better off.  She believes this because she is in  higher level college math classes at UAB with students from other states who think about and solve math problems in a completely different way than how she was taught.”

And a member of the State Board of Education said“Nationwide, “Common Core” consists of a package:  the math and English standards, the Common Core student assessments, federal collection of student data, and teacher evaluations based in large part on student test results.  

Alabama does not do this.  We adopted the standards, yes, but ended our memo of agreement with Common Core, and we’ve already modified both sets of standards, which we review annually to make improvements based on open input from anyone who wants to make a suggestion for improvement.  We also did not adopt the Common Core sponsored student tests, but instead use the ACT aligned ASPIRE and ACT.  And our teachers are not currently evaluated and given promotions and pay raises based on student test results,

Most of the backlash from teachers across the country comes from them getting poor evaluation results based on less than stellar student assessment scores on a test that many thought was low in quality.  Many teachers seem to believe that they didn’t have enough time for professi0nal development on the new standards before students were tested and they were evaluated.  When the students scored below expectations, the teachers got low evaluations.  So many teachers in other states see their low evaluations as unfair and blame Common Core.

Not so in Alabama.  Teacher evaluations are not tied to test scores and we don’t use a Common Core test product.  I have heard only one teacher say one negative word about our standards and she just said she didn’t feel adequately prepared–yet.”  

And this from one of the most highly-respected educators in the state “After four years it’s time for the outside debate to be over and all the interest and energy should be shifted to supporting quality in education for all children in Alabama.”

Amen.