A primary goal of
the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to provide a curriculum to ensure
that all high school graduates are college and career ready. The CCSS math topics through grade 11 include not only
all of the topics of the traditional U.S. Algebra 1-Geometry-Algebra 2
sequence, but also topics typically taught in courses named trigonometry and
statistics.

Alternative pathways
provide a means for non-STEM (i.e., non- Science, Technology, Engineering, and
Math) students to transfer from a two-year college to a four-year institution
and earn a bachelor's degree without needing to show mastery of traditional intermediate
algebra topics. The promotion of alternative pathways challenges the premise
that the CCSS for math are needed for all
students to be college ready.

The common goal of both alternative pathways and the CCSS is to improve U.S. education.

"Core Principles for Transforming Remedial Education: A Joint Statement" from the Charles A. Dana Center,
Complete College America, Inc., Education Commission of the States, and Jobs
for the Future, calls for revamping the two-year college remediation
structure. The paper lists seven Core
Principals for a "fundamentally new approach for ensuring that all
students are ready for and can successfully complete college-level work that
leads to a postsecondary credential of value.

"...Principle 2.
The content in required gateway courses should align with a student’s academic
program of study — particularly in math.

"Gateway
courses provide a foundation for a program of study, and students should expect
that the skills they develop
in gateway courses are relevant to their chosen program. On many campuses, remedial education
is constructed as single curricular pathways into gateway math or English
courses.

"The curricular
pathways often include content that is not essential for students to be
successful in their chosen program of
study. Consequently, many students are tripped up in their pursuit of a
credential while studying
content that they do not need. Institutions need to focus on getting students
into the right math and the
right English.

"This issue is
of particular concern in mathematics, which is generally considered the most
significant barrier to college
success for remedial education students. At many campuses, remedial math is
geared toward student
preparation for college algebra. However for many programs of study, college
algebra should not be a
required gateway course when a course in statistics or quantitative literacy
would be more appropriate….

"...One final
note: Postsecondary leaders must work closely with K–12, adult basic education,
and other training
systems to reduce the need for remediation before students enroll in their
institutions. Postsecondary
institutions should leverage the Common Core State Standards by working with
K–12 schools to improve
the skills of their students before they graduate from high school. Early
assessment of students in high school, using existing placement exams and
eventually the Common Core college and career readiness
assessments, which lead to customized academic skill development during the
senior year, should be a
priority for states. Similar strategies should be employed in adult basic
education and English as a second
language programs."