Debunking Myths About Alabama’s College & Career Ready Standards

With continued misinformation being circulated regarding Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards, which are based on the Common Core State Standards and modified by Alabama educators, A+ is posting an in-depth “Myth vs. Fact” article with supporting links. Please feel free to share this with anyone who has questions about Alabama’s high academic standards, which have been in place since 2010.

Myth: Alabama’s former state standards were better or “ranked higher” than the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS).

Fact: Most proponents of this misconception site the Fordham Institute’s 2010 Publication1 “The State of Sate Standards, and the Common Core in 2010.” In this report, Alabama’s standards were labeled “too close to call” in the report summary when compared to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). However, on every specific measure, Alabama’s standards were ranked lower than the CCSS. Further, while the report does not actually use numerical rankings for states’ standards, the Common Core State Standards “ranked” higher than Alabama’s previous standards in every category.

The Fordham Institute’s own Michael Petrilli said in an op-ed2 on, “While it’s true, as I’ve written before, that [Alabama’s] previous standards were reasonably good, they were inferior to the current standards, as many Alabama teachers have testified. The CCRS include the best of Alabama AND the best of the country.”

Myth: No teachers were part of the group that created the College and Career Ready Standards.

Fact: Both the math and English language arts Courses of Study for Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards were created by unique task forces comprised of teachers and educators from all over the state. The lists of these task force members can be seen in the front of the Courses of Study.3

The Common Core State Standards were developed through a bipartisan, state-led initiative spearheaded by state superintendents and state governors. The CCSS reflect the collective expertise of hundreds of experts: teachers, education researchers, mathematicians, and other leading experts from across the country.4 The standards build on the best of previous state standards plus a large body of evidence from international comparisons and domestic reports and recommendations to define a sturdy staircase to college and career readiness.5 The standards can be viewed at

Myth: The Common Core State Standards, upon which the Alabama College and Career Ready Standards are built, advocate a “leftist” political philosophy and over-emphasize environmental issues like climate change.

Fact: The CCSS, and subsequently the CCRS, are standards that outline what students should be able to do and know. Teachers know best about what works in the classroom. That is why these standards establish what students need to learn but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers decide how best to help students reach the standards.6 Local school systems still develop their own curricula and select their own textbooks to teach from; and individual teachers still develop their own lesson plans and syllabi. The only difference parents and students will see is that our state now expects more out of our students to achieve each year.7

All decisions over curricular content are made at the local level, and questions and concerns about curricular choices are best addressed at the school or system level.

Myth: Alabama College and Career Ready Standards do not emphasize using works of literature to teach literacy skills.

Fact: The College and Career Ready Standards encourage students to read more, and numerous experts have noted the inclusion of rich literary content within CCRS and the Common Core State Standards:

  • E. D. Hirsch, a leading proponent of infusing content knowledge into standards and curriculum, praised the Common Core State Standards, upon which the CCRS are based, as a “not-to-be-missed opportunity for the nation to begin catching up on verbal achievement. By emphasizing the critical fact that language mastery also requires knowledge of history, art, music, and science, and moreover that these subjects should be included in the class time devoted to literacy, these standards go beyond the narrow literary emphasis of even the best of the existing state standards,” concluded Hirsch, who noted that a student’s ability to read, write, speak and listen competently is the single most important predictor of future income and general competence.8 (emphasis added)
  • As pointed out by Kathleen Porter-Magee of the Fordham Institute and Sol Stern of the conservative Manhattan Institute, “This claim reflects a profound misunderstanding of Common Core literacy standards, which do encourage increased exposure to informational texts and literary nonfiction. The goal is to have children read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge.” They go on to say that the standards suggest that the nonfiction proportion of materials should increase in all classes. The standards explicitly warn that English teachers “are not required to devote the majority of class time to reading informational texts.”9

Myth: The Alabama College and Career Ready Standards emphasize the use of inappropriate reading materials that contain excessive amounts of graphic imagery and language.

Fact: While the national CCSS do contain an appendix of suggested works that teacher an use to meet the requirements of specific literacy standards, the Alabama State Board of Education voted to not include this appendix as part of Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards. In a Resolution from November 2013, The State Board of Education maintained that all decisions regarding reading materials and textbooks are to be made at the local level.

Specifically the SBOE resolved, “that curricula are developed at the local school system level, along with plans of instruction and the adoption of textbooks and related resource materials, including the use of technology.”10 Thus, the CCRS does not emphasize the use of any specific reading materials and leaves that decision to the teacher.

All decisions over curricular content are made at the local level, and questions and concerns about curricular choices are best addressed at the school or system level.

Myth: The Alabama College and Career Ready Standards are too hard because they expose children to analytical thinking at too early an age, such as kindergarten.

Fact: According to Robert Pondiscio, a nationally acclaimed early learning advocate, “There’s no reason to think that Common Core’s literacy benchmarks are too hard for kindergarten. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, two out of three kindergarteners already recognize the letters of the alphabet, both in upper and lower cases, when they enter kindergarten—and that’s one of the “foundational skills” expected under Common Core. A similar number (61%) come into kindergarten with two or more Common Core “print concepts” under their cognitive belts, such as knowing that English text is read from left to right and from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. Given how early the trajectory of student success is set, it should make us very, very nervous to suggest that early thinking is too much, too soon.”11

Myth: 70%-80% of Alabama teachers do not approve of the College and Career Ready Standards.

Fact: In a Gallup poll conducted during October 2014, the large majority of U.S. public school teachers, 76%, are in agreement to the primary goal of the Common Core — to have all states use the same set of academic standards for reading, writing and math in grades K-12. 60% of these teachers believe the Common Core math standards are more rigorous than the math standards their schools used previously, and half (51%) believe the English language arts (ELA) standards are more rigorous. Relatively few believe either set of standards is less rigorous than what was in place previously, while the rest say they are about the same.12 A September 2013 poll by the National Education Association of its members found that 75% support CCSS.13

In addition, a recent survey of principals conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) found that more than 80% agree that the Common Core has the potential to improve conceptual understanding, increase student skill mastery and create more meaningful assessments of students.14

The majority of superintendents, too, support the Common Core. A June 2013 Gallup/Education Week poll of superintendents showed that 58% say that the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education in their community, and 75% believe that having these standards will provide more consistency in the quality of education between school districts and states.15

1 For the full report, see
2 March, 2014
3 The website for all CCRS, including notes and task force members is
4 Common Core Development Teams:
5 Explanations of the formation of the CCSS can be found at
6 See
7 Full text available  at
8 “Core Knowledge Foundation supports common standards initiative,” March 10, 2010,
10 For the full text of the SBOE Resolution, see
11 Robert Podiscio is a Senior Fellow with the Fordham Institute. His recent article on kindergarten literacy can be found at
12 Gallup, October 2014 poll results and analysis available at
13 NEA poll results and analysis available at
14 NAESP poll results and analysis available at
15 Gallup, June 2013 poll results and analysis available at