clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

An incredibly revealing poll on teachers' views of Common Core

Teachers support the Common Core, but not the testing that comes with it.
Teachers support the Common Core, but not the testing that comes with it.
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Do teachers like the Common Core, or do they hate it? A new poll from Gallup has found the answer is "both."

Teachers like the idea of national standards for what students should know and be able to do in reading and math, and the survey shows most think the Common Core is at least as rigorous as the old standards it replaced. But the Gallup data shows that teachers don't want to be evaluated on how students perform on tests linked to those standards, a project underway in many states.

Gallup Common Core results: teachers

The Common Core and the new teacher evaluation systems are each huge changes to how education works in the US. And at first, they seemed to work together. One goal of the Common Core was to create more meaningful standardized tests that asked students to do more than just answer multiple-choice questions. If teachers were going to be evaluated on students' test results, the thinking was, states should be using good tests.

But it's clear that, at least among teachers, trying to put both of these changes in place at once is hugely unpopular.

Why teachers are leery of Common Core tests

Students so far have scored lower on Common Core tests than on the old state assessments they used to take. Putting the new standards into effect, testing students against them, and using those scores as one component of teachers' evaluations is an earthquake of simultaneous change.

Test scores aren't the only component of the new evaluation systems. And some teachers would have opposed them no matter what. If states and districts end up using the evaluations to decide how they pay, promote, and fire teachers, that's a big change to job security teachers have long enjoyed. Whether mathematical models can really isolate how much difference a single teacher makes in students' test scores is also a controversial question.

Parents don't have as much of a problem with using test scores to evaluate teachers, or with standardized testing itself:

Common Core: parents

But among teachers, the Common Core goals they support have been conflated with a testing effort they don't.

The Education Department is now trying to reverse that trend, telling states they can delay using the new evaluation systems for a year. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wrote in an August blog post that testing concerns are "sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools — oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards."

The Gallup poll suggested his concerns were well placed, but that the two efforts are so linked that it may be too little, too late.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.