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Common Core Survey: Teachers Feel More Prepared But Less Enthusiastic

According to a new survey, teachers feel more prepared to teach to the Common Core than they did last year — but also less enthusiastic about the standards. To produce the third edition of Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, Scholastic (with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) followed up with more than 1,600 public school teachers who had participated in the Primary Sources survey in July 2013. These teachers represent the more than 40 states where the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are being implemented. 

Key findings include the following:

  • Teachers are now more likely to report feeling prepared to teach to the Common Core (79 percent in 2014 vs. 71 percent in 2013); they are also now more likely to say implementation is going well in their schools (68 percent in 2014 vs. 62 percent in 2013).
  • Due to CCSS implementation, 53 percent of teachers have seen a positive impact on their students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills.
  • 84 percent of teachers who have experienced more than one year of full implementation say they are enthusiastic about the implementation of the CCSS.
  • Fewer teachers this year than last say that they are enthusiastic about CCSS implementation (68 percent in 2014 vs. 73 percent in 2013); teachers are now also more likely to say implementation is challenging (81 percent in 2014 vs. 73 percent in 2013).
  • Teachers identify CCSS–aligned instructional materials (86 percent), quality professional development (84 percent), additional planning time (78 percent) and opportunities to collaborate (78 percent) as critical to ensure successful implementation.

Kathryn Casteel, a science and math teacher at at C.W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, NC, who is in her third year of working with CCSS, said that her attitude toward the math standards hasn't changed significantly in the past year. "I still believe that they are a big improvement over those previously in place in my state because the middle grades content is more grade-level appropriate," she said.

Casteel added that, as teachers had expected, students' math scores on standardized tests "dropped dramatically" when the new standards were implemented, but, "I think the math teachers in my district are well prepared to teach the Common Core curriculum and they recognize better than anyone that student progress on standardized tests will be slow, so they find it frustrating that student test scores are now being included as a component of teachers' annual performance evaluations. I think the testing issue was a greater concern this past year than the previous year."  

Looking to the future, Castell concluded that her biggest concern about CCSS is teaching those who aren't prepared for the rigor of the new standards. "Students need a good foundation of basic math skills in order to do the more self-directed critical thinking activities that the Common Core curriculum requires," she said. "It's very challenging to engage students in inquiry activities when they're unprepared to participate."  

About the Author

Christopher Piehler is the former editor-in-chief of THE Journal.

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