What Do Teachers Really Think About Common Core?

If you have been following the debate on Common Core in the press and on social media, you may be wondering what’s really happening outside of the political arena and in schools themselves. What do our teachers and the public really think?

Several recent surveys have shed light on the views of teachers and voters across the nation.

The most extensive poll asked 20,000 PreK-12 public school teachers about teaching, the Common Core, teacher evaluations, and how best they can collaborate.

Some of the highlights from the poll are:

  • 73% are enthusiastic about the implementation of Common Core in their classroom, with the same percentage saying that they believe the implementation is or will be challenging.
  • A majority (57%) of math, ELA, science and/or social science teachers believe standards will have a positive impact on student’s ability to think critically and use reasoning.
  • 93% of teachers from the 45 Common Core states say implementation has begun in math and/or ELA.
  • Many teachers identify that additional professional development and resources, particularly to support those who struggle most, is essential for successful implementation of the standards.

 

A survey from the National Center for Literacy Education asked over 3000 K- 12 classroom teachers in the 46 states and the District of Columbia who are implementing the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) about how they are implementing the new literacy standards, what works, and what they feel will help the most. The survey’s findings include:

  • While 65% of teachers agree that the standards will help improve student literacy, only 54% feel prepared to implement the Common Core ELA standards.
  • Collaborative planning time was identified as the most valuable support for implementing the standards, with those who do have opportunities to collaborate (virtually or other) feeling better prepared.
  • Where teachers have greater time to analyze student work in teams, they feel more prepared to implement the ELA standards and are more likely to make the significant changes they need in their teaching to meet these rigorous standards.
  • 60% of teachers believe their current curricular materials are not aligned to the Common Core Standards, with 23% rated finding Common Core aligned instructional materials a major challenge. Over 79% are currently creating and adapting their own materials.

These poll results mirror the voices we have heard, as well as some previous but less extensive reports from early implementers and teachers unions. We have been interviewing teachers and administrators about Common Core and how it is being implemented in their schools. The majority of teachers we spoke to are positive about Common Core, and while different schools are at very different stages in their implementation, all commented about the importance of needing sufficient time for planning, good professional development, and access to high quality resources to ensure they are fully prepared to teach the new standards.

 

 So, what are the take aways from the research and our conversations with educators?

  • Engage with the standards - Teachers who have engaged with, and are further along with the implementation process, are not only more positive about the Common Core Standards, but also feel they will have a greater positive impact on student learning.
  • Adapt instruction- Teachers understand that implementation is a challenge and will require some changes in teaching practice, but they remain enthusiastic.
  • Talk frequently and source quality resources- Opportunities to spend time discussing Common Core Standards with colleagues and having aligned classroom materials are essential.
  • Good leadership is key- Implementation is most successful when school leaders use the Common Core Standards as the focus for instruction, professional learning, and accountability (for themselves and others).

 

Since 2012 Achieve.org have surveyed voter perspectives about the Common Core Standards for math and ELA. Their third poll, completed in November 2013, found that of the 800 registered voters asked:

  • A majority support having the same set of standards and tests across the states.
  • While 61% had heard about the Common Core State Standards in some form, opinions for or against are nearly equally divided. They attribute this to the recent vocal opposition in the media.
  • When hearing a brief description of the standards, 69% support their implementation and testing, with 54% versus 25% agreeing they should be implemented in their state.
  • 66% support implementing assessments and 89% agree that a drop in test scores does not mean that the standards are not working. Voters understand they need time to work, with 81% agreeing an adjustment period of 1 to 3 years is important.
  • Still, 78% wanted teacher evaluations, based at least in part on student test scores, to continue during the transition.

Unexpectedly, rigorous new standards which support Career and College Readiness are seen as positive by the majority of the public. Voters overwhelming believe teachers need time to effectively implement these new standards while wishing schools continue to be held accountable for the important work they do in preparing our children.