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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Recent Polls: Do Educators Support the Common Core?

There is a lot of misinformation being spread about the Common Core. And some of it the public believes. The 2013 PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public's Attitudes Towards the Public Schools found that of those who had heard of the Common Core, 49 percent of respondents agree with the false statement that the initiative will create standards in all subjects, and 39 percent agree with the false statement that the Common Core was developed based on a blend of state standards.

There were also substantial percentages of respondents who neither agreed nor disagreed with the statements, indicating that while they might be familiar with the term "Common Core," they didn't know much about it.

Sentiment on Standards

But one of the greatest pieces of misinformation being spread about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is that educators oppose them. This misrepresentation of polling data is particularly concerning given the trust that the public places in educators (the PDK/Gallup poll showed that 72 percent of respondents have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching children in the public schools, and 65 percent have trust and confidence in those serving as principals in the public schools). If the public trusts educators, and if the public believes that educators are opposed to the Common Core, it stands to reason that the public will oppose the Common Core.

We have to set the record straight: Most educators support the Common Core. While there is certainly a vocal minority who do not, poll after poll shows that approximately 75 percent of teachers support the Common Core standards. Consider:

  • A May 2013 American of Federation (AFT) poll of 800 teachers found that 75 percent support the Common Core
  • A September 2013 National Education Association (NEA) poll of its members found that more than 75 percent support the standards either wholeheartedly or with some reservations
  • The 2013 Education Next Survey found that 76 percent of teachers strongly or somewhat support adoption of the Common Core
  • The 2013 Primary Sources survey of 20,000 teachers conducted by Scholastic and the Gates Foundation found that 73 percent of teachers who teach math, English language arts (ELA), science and/or social studies in Common Core states agree they are enthusiastic about the implementation of the standards in their classrooms

In addition, a recent survey of principals conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) found that of the 1,100 principals from 14 Common Core states who responded, more than 80 percent agree that the Common Core has the potential to improve conceptual understanding, increase student skill mastery and create more meaningful assessments of students.

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

Implementation Concerns

Of course, we must separate support for the Common Core State Standards themselves from support for how they are being implemented. For example, the Gallup/Education Week poll found that just two percent of superintendents strongly agree that their school district is getting adequate support at the federal level to implement Common Core -- and 56 percent strongly disagree with that statement. And while all the principals responding to the NAESP survey had participated in professional development on the Common Core, many report that those learning experiences are not tailored to leadership tasks and do not provide guidance about how to bring about the needed instructional and assessment changes in their buildings. Focus groups of these principals indicate they "consistently viewed the Common Core as a mandate that does not include sufficient funding for implementation at the building level."

Teachers have concerns with Common Core implementation, too. NEA's poll revealed that just 23 percent of all their members and members in high poverty districts believe their districts are well prepared to implement the new standards. That poll also found that while two-thirds of respondents had participated in trainings around CCSS, just 26 percent said the trainings were helpful. AFT's poll found that just 27 percent of respondents said that their district has provided them with the tools and resources necessary to teach to the CCSS -- and 53 percent said that they have received either no training or inadequate training to help prepared them to teach to the standards.

Worry over Assessments

Common Core aligned assessments are also generating concern. AFT's poll showed that 74 percent of respondents are worried that students, teachers and schools will be held accountable for the results of those assessments before they have been fully implemented. Eighty-three percent of respondents support a moratorium on consequences until the standards and related assessments have fully been in use for one year. NEA's poll also indicated concern with how these new assessments will be used in accountability -- and 81 percent of their respondents favor a moratorium or grace period on accountability provisions, with the most popular duration being two to five years.

Taken as a whole, these polls clearly indicate that there are very real concerns that the Common Core will not be implemented as intended, and that it will not live up to the potential that the education community believes that it has. And we as a community need to do more -- in terms of professional learning, advocating for the resources we need, and educating the public about the challenges we face in implementation -- to ensure it is a success.

But we must remember that these implementation concerns are not the same as concerns about the standards themselves. And as we talk about them, we need to make clear that distinction. Because if the public assumes we are against the Common Core, it will be, too.

Share with us your thoughts and ideas about the Common Core standards and assessments, and implementation, in the comment section below.

Comments (10)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Chris Van Arsdale's picture

I am a teacher who is very familiar with CCSS. Supporters will be quick to say that CC is not a curriculum and does not dictate classroom practice. This is not the reality I see every day. There is nothing really wrong with what is in CC, but my sophomores have 17 days of testing this year, all aligned with CC, and anything involving higher order thinking skills, divergent thinking, creative thinking, etc., is not testable. Therefore, these get pushed out of the classroom.

Common Core will create a society of widget makers. China has had a national standards driven education policy for nigh on 2000 years. Is this what we really want?

Jennifer Gonzalez's picture
Jennifer Gonzalez
Blogger at Cult of Pedagogy
Blogger

Chris, my background is in English as well, and I really like what's in the ELA part of the CCSS. The way the 10 standards are organized in a parallel structure through every grade level makes it so much easier to keep them in mind when planning lessons (which I did with pre-service teachers for a few years) than previous documents I've worked with. It bothers me when I hear people attacking the Common Core, only because for me they are very flexible and focus on being able to make a claim and back it up, which allows for all kinds of divergent higher order thinking. (Does this sound off-base to you? I'm thinking of the first three writing standards in particular.) The problem is, those skills would be much harder to test with multiple-choice questions.

The problem has GOT to be in the implementation and the testing, because so far no one has really pointed to anything in the CCSS, apart from the early childhood stuff, that is really problematic.

I'm curious to hear more about your experiences -- do the tests your students take (which sound ridiculous in number, by the way) focus mostly on a few skills and ignore the rest of the CCSS -- the parts that would encourage more higher-level thinking?

Ms. Newsome's picture
Ms. Newsome
High School Library Media Specialist

The standards themselves, in the upper grades, are pretty good. I don't mind having national standards, if the curriculum (what is taught to meet those standards) is left up to the individual teacher to implement in a way best for his or her students. However, in the primary grades many of the standards are developmentally inappropriate (asking for cognitive skills that don't develop until later).

The real problems, though,are (a) the tie-in between those who wrote the standards and those who profit from writing & grading tests or from selling textbooks & technology to get ready for the tests, and (b) premature, excessive, high-stakes testing used to evaluate students, teachers, and schools.

Michael Metcalf's picture
Michael Metcalf
Senior High Mathematics

Supporting the idea of a common core of math concepts and principles that are deemed the essentials of a specific math curriculum is arguably commendable and necessary in promoting student understanding and hopefully achievement. However, having reviewed released test prompts of one testing consortia, the level of understanding and execution is in my opinion at a college level of performance. Some might argue that this is exactly what are expectations should be. The reality of the situation is that only a handful of students can reach this level of excellence. A normal distribution of high school students predicts what results one can reasonably expect. Therefore , let us be cautionary in judging and evaluating those in the field of education. Those in education cannot fall prey to some contrived benchmark of "proficiency", which in essence labels both students and teachers as failures. The philosophy of common core is understanding and honoring the learning process which is individually unique and ongoing.

Relaxed Stress's picture

Common core in practice: teaching to the test becomes more the norm due to VAM teacher evaluation based on test scores; narrowed curriculum to tested subjects; developmentally inappropriate for the primary grades; billions spent on computing devices and bandwidth just to be able to take the online tests; questionable cut scores state by state; MORE days spent over-testing students; money diverted from classrooms to fund the testing consortia; not to mention the data-mining component----all for tests written by non-educators, never field-tested, and accepted by states under threat of having their federal funding withheld, even some sight-unseen. What could go wrong?
Remember, the CCSS do not stand alone. They are part of a package. Do you research in depth. We have to look BEYOND the actual standards, which in and of themselves, actually ARE fairly innocuous.

Monty Neill's picture
Monty Neill
Executive Director of FairTest

I predict that when teachers experience the Common Core tests, they will turn much more strongly against the whole apparatus. The tests will remain largely multiple choice with some open ended items and the few performance tasks that are not connected to any actual curriculum. (See http://fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet.)

New York's 'interim' CC tests have been a disaster. Adults with college degrees are going on line looking at PARCC and SBAC are reporting that they can't accurately answer grade 3 tests, many items are not comprehensible, etc. And these are items cherry picked for us to consider as exemplary. Yes, we need more systematic public reviews, but the early signs are extremely troubling.

Debbie Economidis's picture
Debbie Economidis
Parent of 14 y/o and 10 y/o autistic boys in Central Delaware

That's strange. The teachers that I have spoken with do not support Common Core. About that only thing good that came up in our discussions was that now the kids will only be tested once a year instead of 3x per year. You need to get teachers and parents involved in reforms. The current direction is seriously flawed.

Voice of Reason's picture

Oh My Oh My Oh My!!!! The growing open rebellion to CC$$, High Stakes Testing, Junk Science Teacher Evaluation Schemes and Privatization have the Ed "Deformers" doubling down on their shilling...............You have the $$$$$$$$$, but we are on the right side of history!!!! "First you ignore us, then you laugh at us, then you fight us, and then, we win".......... ^0^

Chris Van Arsdale's picture

Jennifer,
From the outside, CCSS look great. Why wouldn't I want all students to be able to do what the CC says? Read them and they look great: as another reply says, "fairly innocuous". The reality is they have a bit of common sense that makes the rest of the idiocy hard to see.

Think of the simple idea of 'best practice' as it applies to teaching to the standard. Apparently, we can look at all the test results and determine that a group of teachers should all follow a best practice to get the same result, which is a common core standard, and just so happens to be testable. This sounds great from the outside, as best practice is commonly accepted in the business world. But what does it mean to the students who go from class to class and see that there is only one way to accomplish a task and only one set of values, and one way to explain an idea? What is the subtext of that pedagogy? The students see that there must be only one correct way to accomplish a task. Is this what we want our students to see? True this is not specifically in CC itself. It is part of the whole package and is implied in the idea of a common set of standards.

Do we place any value on questioning authority? I don't see that in the standards.

On another level, the CCSS are so vague as to be superfluous. If I have my students read a couple of texts and write a literary analysis, how many standards have I met in two weeks? Quite a few, especially if I throw in a relevant vocabulary assignment and some interesting journals and discussions in the process.

My apologies, as I'm beginning to vent a few frustrations.

KristinL's picture
KristinL
Fifth Grade Reading Teacher

As a teacher who is implementing the Common Core curriculum in Maryland, I can certainly relate to the teachers' concerns. Students are struggling a lot to grasp the new curriculum because of its high standards. With Common Core all of the sudden being implemented, students are dealing with gaps in their knowledge. With this issue, students are falling behind and struggling to keep up and in turn, teachers have to go back and fill in those gaps and run out of time to teach the common core standards fully. It's like a chain reaction. When teachers can't squeeze the curriculum in, then students may not fully be prepared to do well on the aligned assessments. It's as if teachers are somewhat stuck. Do we move on to fit in the entire curriculum? Do we stop and help fill in the gaps for the students falling behind? What about the students who are hanging on? There are many questions that I think teachers will figure out over time.

I do think that in the years to come, we will see the gaps slowly being filled as students move from grade to grade and that this system will improve. Change is difficult for some people and as with anything, it takes time to adjust.

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