Open Letter to ALABAMA SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS
From: Eunie Smith, President
Leslie Whitcomb, Education Chairman
Sadly, the latest NAEP results place Alabama dead last on Math and English, a significant decline from where we were before Common Core when Alabama had been trending upward. The 2011 Alabama State Department of Education document here touted:
“In 2011 Alabama moved from near last to 25th in the nation in overall grades and scores [Education Week assessment] … 12th in the nation for standards, assessments and accountability… data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed a historic gain of eight points in fourth grade Reading for Alabama public school students – the … highest gain ever in NAEP recorded history. Since then, Alabama has maintained its progress in NAEP assessments.” But that was before common core implementation in 2012 in Math and 2013 in English. See graphs and charts below.
According to PARCA,
“The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) is a battery of tests given every two years
to a representative sample of students in all 50 states. The test is designed to serve as a national scorecard, allowing comparison of educational performance across the states.
The 2015 results are out. They’re disappointing for the nation at large, and for Alabama, in particular.
In 2015, Alabama’s average math score, in both 4th and 8th grade, was the lowest of any state.Between 2013 and 2015, Alabama’s average score declined in both grades.
Among U.S. states, Alabama had the lowest percentage of students scoring proficient in 4th
and 8th grade. Only 26 percent of 4th graders and 17 percent of 8th graders scored high enough on the NAEP to be considered grade-level proficient in math.
While Alabama’s higher poverty rate puts it at something of a competitive disadvantage in national comparisons, a deeper look shows it’s not Alabama’s demographics skewing the results. Name the group – black, white, Hispanic, poverty and non-poverty – all perform worse than their peers in all other states.” (The PARCA Perspective, October 2015)
According to nationally recognized standards expert Sandra Stotsky,
“NAEP scores nationally did not go down because (1) Common Core standards are more demanding and (2) teachers need more professional development. They went down because Common Core is dumbed down math, and NAEP still includes test items based on what we expected kids to be taught by/in grade 4 only 10 years ago. Today, our kids can’t get these tests right because their classroom curriculum (based on CC math standards) has been dumbed down, [confuses, and neglects the basics]. Nor can our upper elementary grades do well on NAEP test items in reading when their language arts curriculum has eliminated the great children’s literature that got them to read – especially boys.”
Dr. Stotsky, in a 2011 press conference in Montgomery, advised Alabama to continue with its standards upon which success was building instead of adopting the unproven and flawed common core regimen. State Board members Betty Peters and Stephanie Bell listened and voted against common core.
Again, more than half of Common Core states showed historic declines on 2015 NAEP – declines that have not been seen since the early 90s when the NAEP began, but Non-Common Core States showed NO decline on NAEP!!!!
It’s not just NAEP scores that confirm the inferiority of Common Core. ACT scores of Alabama students as shown in The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2015 Alabama report shows that only 16% of Alabama students meet the benchmark in all four subjects. Further, the percentage is down five percentage points from 2014. See report here.
For Alabama students, clearly Common Core is a Failure with a capital F!
Will school board members rescue students from further failure now? According to Math Standards expert Dr. James Milgram’s research, 4 years of common core type math in California beginning in 1992 resulted in irreparable damage. California then ditched those standards and returned to what works. Alabama is in its 4th year, as we have pointed out to you before. When will you ditch the flawed regimen that is common core?
But what would you use? Just like Alabama has done for years, a committee of professionals and parents could convene. They could use as a template for Math the pre-common core standards that put California first in the nation; and for English, the acknowledged best were pre-common core Massachusetts. There are other proven sound standard sets upon which to build.
There is no limit to what our teachers could do for their students if they were no longer constrained by common core and were equipped with the basics that have worked for generations.
You will surely agree with us that it is unfair to our students not to address this ASAP and reverse course before it gets any worse.
All NAEP Scores for Alabama eighth grade students fell since the implementation of Common Core with the exception of eighth grade ELA. In this instance, the white and black student scores were basically flat with Hispanic scores up 6 points, which raising the overall score by 2 points.
Impact of Common Core on Alabama education
Alabama Accomplishments 2011 prior to impact of Common Core
Average Mathematics grade 4 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Reading grade 4 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Mathematics grade 8 public schools all students: By jurisdiction
Average Reading grade 8 public schools all students: By jurisdiction