Three and a half years after the launch of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, schools nationwide continue working to implement the new standards in English/language arts and mathematics, which have been adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The move toward more uniform standards and expectations has often been described as a sea change in American education that could dramatically transform teaching and learning at all grade levels. School-based educators-especially teachers-will play a critical role in making the vision of common standards a reality in the classroom.
Yet, concerns about teacher readiness for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are raised by a new study from the EPE Research Center, the research arm of Editorial Projects in Education, the nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week. The study, Findings from a National Survey of Teacher Perspectives on the Common Core, finds that just one in five teachers feels they are very prepared to teach the common standards to their students as a whole. Confidence levels drop by half when teachers were asked about their readiness to address the needs of particular student groups, including English language learners and students with disabilities. Still fewer teachers—just five percent—believe their students are ready to master the demands of the Common Core.
This study explores a range of issues crucial to the successful implementation of the new standards, including: awareness of the common core; information sources; the focus, format, and quality of training; teacher and school preparedness; the perceived impact of the CCSS; and areas where additional training and resources are needed. Support for the report was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also underwrites coverage of deeper learning in Education Week.
Other major findings from the report:
- Most teachers report some basic awareness of the common standards, although their level of familiarity is typically not deep.
- Teachers most often get information about the CCSS from their schools’ administrators and their state departments of education.
- Most teachers have received some professional development related to the CCSS, although it usually lasted only a few days or less.
- Most often, training has focused on the English/language arts and mathematics standards and has taken place in seminars and other formal settings.
- Few teachers feel their textbooks and curricular materials are very well aligned with the CCSS.
- The majority of teachers believe that the quality of the CCSS is at least as high as that of their states’ prior standards.
- Teachers also generally agree that the new common standards will have a positive impact on their instruction.
Another study, conducted by the consortium of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Scholastic, and the Harrison Group, found similarly mixed results. Primary Sources 2012: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession features voices of teachers reflecting on the Common Core:
• “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)
To read Primary Sources: 2012 – America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, visit: http://www.scholastic.com/primarysources/pdfs/Gates2012_full.pdf
To read Findings from a National Survey of Teacher Perspectives on the Common Core, visit: http://www.edweek.org/media/epe_survey_teacher_perspctives_common_core_2013.pdf