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.
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.