Alabama Lawmaker Risks Setting Students and Teachers Back

Earlier this year Alabama State Senator Rusty Glover introduced legislation for the fourth year in a row to repeal the state’s College and Career Ready Standards, which are based on the Common Core, the Decatur Daily reports. “The unproven, new Common Core standards, which replaced Alabama’s previously praised state-driven standards, are limiting our ability to excel and putting our students at risk,” Sen. Glover wrote last year.

That’s where Glover gets it wrong. Alabama voluntarily adopted Common Core State Standards – which were developed by state officials, not the federal government, as Glover suggests – because they mark an improvement over those the state used before and because they give educators and parents the ability to compare progress to other states.

While the state’s former standards were strong, an independent analysis by the Fordham Institute in 2010 concludes: “[W]hile much of the essential content is included, [Alabama’s previous education standards] themselves could be more systematic and clearer in their detail and organization…Common Core’s standards are generally clearer and more specific than those of Alabama.”

Alabama is having success with its Common Core State Standards. In 2014, Alabama schools began administering student assessments aligned to its new standards. As a result, the state narrowed its “Honesty Gap” by 50 points in fourth-grade leading along, according to analysis last year by Achieve.

A follow-up to the Honesty Gap released last month found Alabama continues to report student proficiency rates near those found by the National Assessment of Education Progress. That means parents and teachers are getting accurate information about how well prepared their children are when measured to rigorous academic expectations.

Glover’s bill would immediately replace the standards, putting the state’s old standards back in place while also requiring new standards be ready for the 2017-18 school year – forcing Alabama’s teachers and students to use a third set of standards in as many years. Before moving to replace its Common Core State Standards, Alabama lawmakers should consider the outcomes in other states that have taken that path. A white paper by the Collaborative for Student Success finds that Oklahoma, the only state to replace the Common Core with explicitly different education standards, has put its students and teachers on a rocky path.

“While other states are working to provide parents and teachers with better tools to measure student development toward college- and career-readiness, the future for Oklahoma’s academic standards—and its students—is less certain,” the white paper concludes.