Letter to State Board of Ed | If You Want Our Schools & Students to Improve … Keep CCRS!

Written by Valerie Johnson, M. Ed., NBCT
Principal, Semmes Elementary (Mobile County)

(Published with permission from author)



Members of Alabama State School Board,

Greetings to all of you. I am a school principal in Mobile County. I am disheartened to learn that some of you are trying to repeal the Alabama College and Career Readiness Standards again. I can hardly believe that the state of Alabama is going through this madness yet again.

I am incredibly frustrated with the state school board and the state department of education. I am a veteran educator with 20 years of experience, and I don’t believe I’ve ever been this unhappy with the state of education in Alabama. For the last year, since Mr. Sentance was hired, there has been an ongoing litany of problems.

If you want our educational system to get even worse, repeal the CCRS. If you want our schools and students to improve, I beg you – keep CCRS!

I invite you to my school to talk to my teachers and students. I invite you to see all of the amazing things that are happening in my school because of the CCRS. We have focused on the standards and are implementing them on a daily basis in every classroom. Last year our professional development was around the English Language Arts standards, and our ACT Aspire Reading scores improved! Our 3rd grade students improved by three percentage points and our 4th grade students improved by seven percentage points! I attribute that success to our concentration on the ELA standards. We worked hard on helping our teachers to better understand the standards, and worked tirelessly on unpacking the standards to ensure that our teachers were well-prepared to fully implement CCRS. Many people do not understand the magnitude and importance of fully training teachers on the CCRS. The problem is NOT the standards.

I ask you to read the standards. I’m convinced that many people have not read the standards which is why there is a lack of understanding how they impact us and our students. Here are a few grade level examples of our ELA standards:

  • RL.K.7. With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear.
  • RL.5.7. Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text.
  • RL.8.7. Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.
  • RL.12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama or poem, evaluating how each version interprets the source text.

This one standard is illustrative of how each anchor standard builds upon prior grade levels. It is essential to have rigorous and applicable standards for Alabama’s students. Aren’t you tired of Alabama’s students scoring at the bottom of the list when compared to other states? The CCRS give us a chance at improving our students’ learning AND achievement.

Please keep the CCRS. It is essential to our educational success.

Best regards,

Valerie Johnson, M. Ed., NBCT
Semmes Elementary
Mobile County Public School System

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