Standards From Our Research Center

Teachers Say They Are Not Well-Prepared for Common Core

By Catherine Gewertz — August 19, 2014 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Teachers are getting steadily more training in the common core, but they’re not feeling much more prepared to teach it, according to survey results released last week by the Education Week Research Center.

The study, “From Adoption to Practice: Teacher Perspectives on the Common Core,” shows that while far more teachers are attending common-core training, they’re giving the sessions low marks for quality.

Those findings were drawn from an online survey of registered users of in October 2013. The pool of respondents is not nationally representative, but it is a snapshot of a diverse group of 457 teachers in states that adopted the Common Core State Standards. Support for the survey was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also provides support for Education Week‘s coverage of deeper learning.

Quality an Issue

Compared with a similar survey by the Education Week Research Center in October 2012, the new study shows significant shifts in teachers’ professional development and training for the common core.

In last year’s report, 71 percent of teachers said they had attended professional development or training on the common core. This year, that figure rose to 87 percent. Teachers are spending more time in that training, too: Four in 10 said they had spent more than five days in common-core training, compared with 28 percent the previous year.

But they’re far more critical of that professional development than they were the year before. Two-thirds of the teachers said it was of high quality in 2012, but barely half said so in 2013.

Ready or Not?

A survey by the Education Week Research Center finds teachers have participated in more professional development related to the common core, but they are more critical of how that training has equipped them for changes in instruction.


SOURCE: Education Week Research Center

States are edging closer to giving common-core-aligned assessments this coming spring, but few teachers were getting training on them. In the most recent survey, only 23 percent said they’d received professional development on that topic.

Far more common is training on the English/language arts standards; 82 percent reported it as a topic of professional development. Training on the mathematics standards ran a distant second, with only 55 percent saying it was covered. Just 15 percent of the teachers reported sessions aimed at helping them teach subgroups of students with specific challenges, such as those with disabilities or from low-income families.

Even though far more teachers are receiving common-core training, it doesn’t appear to be helping them feel more prepared to teach the new standards. Their sense of preparedness, ranked on a scale from 1 (“not at all prepared”) to 5 (“very prepared”), was about the same in this year’s report as it was the previous year: Slightly less than half gave themselves 4s or 5s on that preparedness scale.

Meeting All Students’ Needs

Teachers feel even less prepared to teach the common core to students with more challenges. Fewer than 4 in 10 teachers said they felt well prepared to teach the common core to students who were from low-income families or were academically at risk. One-quarter or fewer said they felt prepared to teach it to students with disabilities or those still learning to speak English.

Teachers are unhappy with the lack of alignment between their instructional materials and the common core. Nearly 6 in 10 said their main curricular materials were not aligned to the new standards, a picture that’s stubbornly unchanged from the year before.

Textbooks came in for a particularly hard hit. Less than one-third of the teachers said their textbooks were aligned. Supplementary resources and digital/multimedia resources were better aligned, teachers said. But even so, barely half gave those materials strong marks for alignment.

Teachers reported deep skepticism about publishers’ claims that their materials are common-core-aligned. Fewer than 4 in 10 said they’d trust curriculum providers’ claims of alignment. Two-thirds said they’d trust the judgment of “independent panels of experts.” Nearly 9 in 10, though, said they could put their faith in the judgments of fellow teachers when it comes to materials alignment.

Familiarity with the common-core standards was on the rise, the survey shows. Only 18 percent classified themselves as “very familiar” with the math standards in fall 2012, but that number rose to 31 percent in the fall 2013 survey. The proportion who described themselves as very familiar with the English/language arts standards rose from 34 percent to 45 percent.

Far fewer teachers were familiar with the common-core assessments being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and the Smarter Balanced consortia, however. Just over half said they were familiar with the consortia’s math tests, and about two-thirds said they were familiar with their English/language arts tests.

Related Tags:

Coverage of “deeper learning” that will prepare students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world is supported in part by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, at Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the August 20, 2014 edition of Education Week as Teachers Feel Ill-Prepared for Common-Core Despite Training


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Standards Explainer What’s the Purpose of Standards in Education? An Explainer
What are standards? Why are they important? What's the Common Core? Do standards improve student achievement? Our explainer has the answers.
11 min read
Photo of students taking test.
F. Sheehan for EdWeek / Getty
Standards Florida's New African American History Standards: What's Behind the Backlash
The state's new standards drew national criticism and leave teachers with questions.
9 min read
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Celebrate Freedom Foundation Hangar in West Columbia, S.C. July 18, 2023. For DeSantis, Tuesday was supposed to mark a major moment to help reset his stagnant Republican presidential campaign. But yet again, the moment was overshadowed by Donald Trump. The former president was the overwhelming focus for much of the day as DeSantis spoke out at a press conference and sat for a highly anticipated interview designed to reassure anxious donors and primary voters that he's still well-positioned to defeat Trump.
Florida Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in West Columbia, S.C., on July 18, 2023. Florida officials approved new African American history standards that drew national backlash, and which DeSantis defended.
Sean Rayford/AP
Standards Here’s What’s in Florida’s New African American History Standards
Standards were expanded in the younger grades, but critics question the framing of many of the new standards.
1 min read
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida State Board of Education in the teaching of Black history.
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the historic Ritz Theatre in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on July 21, 2023. Harris spoke out against the new standards adopted by the Florida state board of education in the teaching of Black history.
Fran Ruchalski/The Florida Times-Union via AP
Standards Opinion How One State Found Common Ground to Produce New History Standards
A veteran board member discusses how the state school board pushed past partisanship to offer a richer, more inclusive history for students.
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty