WTVY has been looking at the future of education in Alabama, as the State School Board prepares to vote on a switch to national “Common Core” standards. Those standards are designed to equalize education with subject matter that must be taught at each grade level.
Some say it will save money. Proponents say that it puts all college-bound students on a level playing field, and that it also makes it easier for students to change schools.
But opponents say it could meant he end of local school boards, state sovereignty, and any freedom in teaching.
WTVY has talked to parents, teachers and students in a series of focus groups. We invited many school districts and advocacy groups, including “Yes We Can – Dothan”. However, not all invited groups were able to participate.
Here is some of what those who will be most affected by standardization told us.
Pike County Student Teacher Elisabeth Miller said, “I would like to think that it would [be beneficial]. I think it sounds good, kind of being college and career ready. But just the same way ‘No Child Left Behind’ looked good, but when you put it into the school, having seen what the teachers and students go through, it's not always what’s best for the students.”
“Basically, I stop at World War II. I want to get to Vietnam, Iran-Contra, 9/11. I want to get to all that, but I’m really trying to get my kids to pass the graduation exam,” shared High School Teacher and Parent Janasky Fleming.
“[There is a] kid at the school where I am [that is in the] 10th grade, reading on 4th grade level. So while standards are good and something to aim for, you can't say all 10th graders need to be reading The Great Gatsby and Grapes of Wrath, when many can't comprehend beyond 4th grade level,” added high school student Ryan Lemanski.
Reactions to examples of some of the actual standards have been mixed, from great to unrealistic to comments about the standards being extremely high for students at their current level.
Most agreed that, if the standards are approved, the implementation process would need to include a significant transition time for all levels.
Other concerns ranged from the relevance of the national standards to life in Alabama to the state’s already high academic standards.
If you missed any parts of this series, “Standardizing Students”, you can watch the series in its entirety at WTVY.COM. You can also read more about the proposed core standards and share your comments and opinions.