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March 03, 2015 2 min read
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| NEWS | State EdWatch

False Beliefs May Lead to Support for Standards

A new poll about the Common Core State Standards shows that a plurality of those surveyed don’t have an opinion about the standards, followed closely by the share of those who disapprove of them. But the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll reveals something else that may seem counterintuitive: the possibility that incorrect beliefs about the standards could actually increase support for them.

Some critics of the standards, largely on the conservative side of the spectrum, have long linked controversial curriculum topics and other issues to the standards, such as the promotion of certain forms of sex education and the scientific concepts of global warming and evolution—even though the common core does not deal with those topics.

The poll tries to link false beliefs about the standards to support and opposition to them. It asked respondents whether they believed the standards dealt with sex education, global warming, and evolution.

Among Republicans, disapproval of the standards by those who held all three false beliefs (54 percent) was 20 percentage points higher than for those Republicans who held no false beliefs about the topics.

But look at the Democrats: 33 percent of those who hold all three false beliefs approved of the standards, while just 21 percent holding none of those beliefs said they approved.

So why might Democrats support the common core at a greater rate if they hold more false beliefs about it? While these “false beliefs” may have originated from conservatives, they’ve gained enough traction in the public sphere that some Democrats have also begun holding them, says Dan Cassino, the poll’s director.

–Andrew Ujifusa

| NEWS | Teacher Beat

In Anti-Testing Push, Unions Turn to Ads, Polls

Teachers’ unions in Connecticut and New Jersey are trying to get the number of tests students must take in their states reduced, and they’re relying in part on ads and commissioned polls they say reflect widespread concern among parents and the public about the exams.

The timing isn’t coincidental, as both states are gearing up for their first round of testing under new, more rigorous exams that reflect the Common Core State Standards.

The New Jersey Education Association has spent a pretty penny on ads opposing tests from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, and its ultimate goal is to create a “testing bill of rights” that would require only samples of students to be tested in certain grade spans, rather than annual testing in grades 3-8.

In a recent poll of New Jersey voters, 54 percent of respondents said the state puts too much emphasis on testing, although curiously, 55 percent also said they knew nothing about PARCC. The poll also describes and asks voters about potentially negative aspects of testing, which has some critics alleging that it is dangerously close to a push poll.

The Connecticut Education Association is taking a similar tack. It has spent some $250,000 on an anti-testing campaign, says the Hartford Courant. And like the NJEA, it’s backing up its efforts with its own poll.

That poll also focuses on negative aspects of testing, such as asking whether “schools are more interested in improving standardized test scores than improving overall student learning.”

–Stephen Sawchuk

A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Blogs

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