Policy & Assessment | Research

Most Americans Have Never Heard of Common Core

Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), according to a recent poll conducted by Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup.

The report, "The 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools: Which way do we go?" analyses the results of a survey of 1,001 adult Americans and concludes that policy makers may be moving ahead without adequate public consultation and without providing people with enough information about policy changes.

Of the 38 percent of poll respondents who were aware of the Common Core, further questioning revealed that those people demonstrated a lack of knowledge and lack of support for both the standards and the tests. Only four in 10 of them think the Common Core can make education in the United States more globally competitive. Many of them had inaccurate information about Common Core, including the belief "that the standards are based on a blending of state standards, that the federal government is insisting that all states adopt the standards, and that there is a plan to create standards in all academic areas."

"As we transition into the Common Core State Standards, we must remember that students, parents, and community members need to be as well versed in the standards as teachers," said Jeff Charbonneau, the 2013 National Teacher of the Year and a high school science teacher in Zillah, WA, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "Our society has a vested interest in educational goals that we set for our students. With less than half of the general population in the survey having even heard of the standards, let alone being very knowledgeable of them, there is a real and significant need to increase awareness and knowledge of the standards among all citizens."

Other findings from the report:

  • Fewer than 25 percent think increased testing has improved the performance of their local public schools;
  • Most poll respondents do not support using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, a significant change from previous polls;
  • Most respondents think schools are safe and reject the idea of arming teachers and principals;
  • Most support public charter schools, homeschooling, online learning, and self-paced instruction;
  • Most think high school graduates are unprepared for careers or college;
  • Most would give their local public school a grade of A or B, higher than in any previous poll, but fewer than 20 percent would give the schools nationally a grade of B or better;
  • Most support teaching 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity in schools;
  • Most respondents trust public school teachers and principals;
  • Most believe preschool programs for children from low-income homes would help them succeed in high school; and
  • Parents think schools don't teach students good financial management skills.

The full report, "The 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools: Which way do we go?" is available for free on the Phi Delta Kappa International site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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