School & District Management

Most Teachers Know About Common Core, Survey Finds

By Erik W. Robelen — March 16, 2012 2 min read
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Word has definitely gotten out among teachers about the Common Core State Standards, new survey data suggest, but many educators do not feel fully prepared to teach them.

Across the states that have adopted the standards, 78 percent of public school teachers say they’ve heard about the standards, based on the results of a survey conducted last summer. (I guess that’s good news for common-core fans, but I’m a little surprised that a full one-fifth hadn’t heard.)

However, when asked how prepared teachers felt to implement the standards in their classroom, the results, publicly released today, were considerably more mixed. This probably should not come as a big surprise, as many states and districts have just recently begun to ramp up their professional-development activities around the common core.

In all, only 22 percent of teachers said they were “very prepared” to teach the new standards, while 51 percent said they were “somewhat prepared,” and 27 percent were “somewhat/very unprepared.”

Testing systems aligned to the common standards—which are being developed by two separate assessment consortia of states—are expected to be fully implemented in the 2014-15 academic year.

Meanwhile, about two-thirds of teachers, or 64 percent, said they believed that “common standards across all states” would have either a strong or very strong impact on improving student achievement, the report says. (The most popular among a set of various issues that would improve learning was “family involvement and support,” which got backing from 98 percent of those surveyed.)

This is the second teacher survey sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Scholastic. Common standards were just one small sliver of the many questions posed to some 10,000 teachers, which cover everything from their perceptions of teacher evaluations and tenure policies to family involvement and job satisfaction. The survey was administered by Harrison Group, a market research and strategy consulting firm based in Waterbury, Conn.

You can read some highlights of the study in this press release.

My colleague and co-blogger Catherine reported last fall that barely half of school districts in the states that had adopted the common standards were taking essential steps to implement them.

The new report highlights some specific comments from teachers about the common-core standards, including these:

• “I’m ready for common standards, but I need adequate supplies and technology if I’m going to make them work for my students.” (Elementary teacher)

• “Let’s adopt the common core and stick with it for at least 10 years. How can we see progress if we keep changing our plans?” (High school teacher)

• “I don’t like the common core. Teachers need the freedom to teach children individually to build critical-thinking skills, creative problem-solving skills, and passionate interests.” (Middle school teacher)

The survey also asked teachers a series of questions related to state-required standardized tests, and many were not exactly enthusiastic about their value. Only 28 percent said they were either “absolutely essential” or “very important.” Instead, they much preferred formative, ongoing assessments; class participation; and performance on class assignments to gauge student performance.

Also, only about half of teachers agreed that such standardized tests “provide a meaningful benchmark against which teachers can judge their students’ progress.”

Speaking of asking teachers what they think, just last week I blogged about another recent survey

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.