Survey: Teachers Are Knowledgeable About Common Core, But Wary

By Stephen Sawchuk — August 19, 2014 1 min read
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U.S. teachers know a lot more about the Common Core State Standards than most Americans, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily like them, according to new survey results from the journal Education Next.

According to the survey, teachers’ support of the common core has dropped precipitously, with 40 percent opposing them—nearly 30 points higher than in 2013, when just 12 percent of teachers said they opposed them.

Interestingly enough, teachers were far more likely than other Americans to understand what the standards do and to counter misperceptions about them, the survey found.

If the falling support of the general public can be chalked up to the increasingly screechy political battles over the common core, that doesn’t seem to be a sufficient explanation for teachers. After all, they seem to know what these standards are all about. So why the more negative reaction this time around?

Over at Flypaper, Mike Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute—a group unabashedly supportive of the standards—suggests that the wording of the question might have had something to do with it. After all, he notes, the question says the standards will be used “to hold public schools accountable for their performance,” something educators are increasingly weary of after 12 years under the No Child Left Behind law.

Or perhaps it is more simple: More places are implementing the standards and tying stakes to them, and some teachers are experiencing growing pains in that process. As Education Week has reported, the state of teacher preparation on the standards, the quality of new, purportedly aligned textbooks, and other features of implementation are widely varying. The two national teachers’ unions have also struggled to walk the fine line between supporting the standards and saying that test-based accountability for them has been rushed, another factor to keep in mind while interpreting these results.

The poll represents a nationally representative sample of up to 5,600 adults; teachers were oversampled. The margin of error was +/- 2 percentage points.

For more results and analysis of the survey, check out my colleague Catherine Gewertz’s post over at Curriculum Matters.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.