Published Online: July 1, 2014
Published in Print: July 9, 2014, as Most District Chiefs See Value in Common Core

Common Core Will Improve Education, Most District Chiefs Say

About two-thirds of district superintendents said they believe the Common Core State Standards will improve the quality of education in their communities, while 22 percent said the standards will have no effect, according to the results from a new poll.

The survey, one of several conducted by the Gallup polling organization in partnership with Education Week over the last year, also found that two out of three superintendents believe the common standards are “just about right” in terms of difficulty for students. Fourteen percent, which cover English/language arts and mathematics, said the standards are too challenging, and just 5 percent said the standards are not challenging enough.

Meanwhile, 43 percent of respondents strongly disagreed when asked whether they were receiving “adequate support” from the federal government to implement the common core.

Roughly 1,800 superintendents took the online survey, which was administered in May and looked at a range of issues in K-12 public schooling, including school budgets, evaluating teachers, workforce development, and technology. The survey, however, was not a nationally representative sample.

Budget Cuts

When questioned about district finances, just under half of superintendents said they plan to make budget cuts in the next school year. Among the areas to be most affected by cutbacks were operations and maintenance, instruction, salary and wages, and administration. Just 8 percent said special education would be one of the most affected areas.

Key Findings

Nearly all superintendents (94 percent) said the level of student engagement is a “very important” factor in evaluating a teacher’s performance. Just 16 percent said student test scores were very important, though 63 percent labeled such scores as “somewhat important.”

The leaders also rated their districts’ effectiveness in several areas related to workforce development. About half said their district is “very effective” at selecting talented teachers, and 56 percent said the same about selecting talented principals. Fewer superintendents said their districts were very effective in recruitment and development.

Just 19 percent of superintendents indicated they spend “a lot of time” interacting with students, though 64 percent said they would like to devote that much time to the task. The district leaders were most likely to say they spend a lot of time with administrators and planning budgets. Fewer than 1 in 10 said they spend a lot of time lobbying state legislators.

Vol. 33, Issue 36, Page 14

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