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Survey Provides First-Hand Look at How One Year Has Affected Teachers’ Views on the Common Core State Standards

By Abi Mandelbaum
October 3rd, 2014

Primary Sources Update Shows More Teachers Are Prepared to Teach to the Common Core and Many Are Seeing Positive Changes in Their Classrooms, While Acknowledging Challenges and a Need for Resources

NEW YORK, NY – October 3, 2014 – Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today released results from a survey of more than 1,600 of America’s pre-K–12 public school teachers who are in the more than 40 states where the Common Core State Standards are being implemented. Focused on how the new standards are affecting teachers’ students and classrooms, the survey found that over the past year the majority of teachers have remained optimistic that the Common Core will lead to greater levels of student achievement and that many are observing positive changes in their classrooms despite some challenges in implementation. This survey, which was conducted in July 2014, is a follow-up with the teachers who responded in July 2013 to the comprehensive survey that comprised Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change.

“Raising the standards by implementing the Common Core is both important and challenging work. It may take time to see the full results but I’m gradually seeing a change for the better in the classrooms in my school,” shared Kathryn Casteel, a math intervention and science educator at C. W. Stanford Middle School in Hillsborough, NC. “As teachers, our job is all about getting kids excited and engaged about learning and the emphasis on real-world problems that we now have is a great opportunity to do just that.”

Teachers’ Views on Common Core State Standards Implementation and Resources

• In 2014, a majority of teachers report implementation is mostly or fully complete (65%, up 19 points from 2013), and teachers increasingly agree it is going well in their schools (68%, up six points from 2013).
• More teachers report feeling prepared to teach to the Common Core, with 79 percent of teachers saying they are “very” or “somewhat” prepared (up eight points from 2013), even as more agree that implementation is challenging (81%, up eight points from 2013).
• Among the challenges, teachers continue to identify critical resources they need to ensure successful implementation, with more than eight in ten teachers citing Common Core–aligned instructional materials (86%) and quality professional development (84%), and many teachers wanting additional planning time (78%) as well as opportunities to collaborate with other teachers (78%).
• A majority of teachers (68%) report they are enthusiastic about Common Core implementation in their classrooms, although slightly fewer agree this year over last (down five points from 2013).

Similar to findings from 2013, in schools where implementation is well underway, teachers are more positive in their attitudes toward the Common Core than are teachers in schools where implementation is in its early stages or has not yet begun. For instance:
• Among teachers who have experienced more than one year of full implementation with the Common Core, 84% say they are enthusiastic about implementation in their classroom.
Teachers’ Views on the Impacts of the Common Core State Standards for Their Students
• Teachers continue to agree the Common Core will improve students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills (72%, steady from 74% in 2013).
• Additionally, half (53%) of teachers report they already have seen a positive impact on this skill set among their students; sixty-eight percent (68%) of teachers who report they are in schools where implementation was fully complete in the 2012–13 school year (or earlier) say the same.
• However, slightly less than half of teachers overall say the Common Core will be positive for most students (48%, down nine points from 2013).

“Teachers clearly indicate that there is a continued and critical need for resources to help them apply the standards and prepare all of their students to achieve, echoing the strong call for support that we heard in 2013 Primary Sources report,” noted Margery Mayer, President, Scholastic Education. “Even though we know teachers are resourceful about finding materials and lesson plans on their own, we must ensure that our teachers have the professional development and leveled instructional materials they need to perform their important work.”

“We’re hearing from many teachers who are already seeing positive changes in their classrooms as a direct result of the Common Core,” said Vicki Phillips, director of College-Ready Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We owe it to teachers to listen to them, support them and do whatever we can to help ensure their success and the success of their students.”

Background on Primary Sources
The Primary Sources series of reports is an ongoing dialogue with America’s public school teachers on current issues in education. The first edition, which was fielded in 2009 and surveyed more than 40,000 teachers, is widely considered the largest-ever survey of America’s teachers. The following second and third editions were fielded in 2011 and 2013, respectively. The third survey asked 20,000 teachers their views on the many changes occurring in America’s classroom. Acknowledging the fast pace of these changes, the 2014 Update shows the impact of one year on teachers’ views on the Common Core State Standards. To download the full reports and explore state data from 2009 and 2013, please visit www.scholastic.com/primarysources.

Methodology, In Brief
This Primary Sources update, fielded online by YouGov, includes teachers who participated in Primary Sources, Third Edition: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, which was fielded in July 2013. Teachers were once again contacted through Market Data Retrieval (MDR) and the study was conducted from July 1, 2014 through July 22, 2014; 1,676 pre-K–12 full-time public school classroom teachers completed the survey. All Common Core State Standards implementation states, plus the District of Columbia, are included in this research with the exception of Delaware. The states not included are Alaska, Nebraska, Virginia, Texas, South Carolina and Indiana. The sample is balanced on population characteristics including grade(s) taught, years of teaching experience, gender and urbanity, as was the case in each edition of Primary Sources. The survey invitation did not mention any content areas and the sample was monitored to ensure teachers who participated in this wave of the research were no more or less likely to have felt positively, negatively or neutrally toward the Common Core in 2013.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health with vaccines and other lifesaving tools and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About YouGov
YouGov is a pioneer in online research with offices throughout the United States, the UK, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. YouGov’s custom research specialists conduct a full spectrum of quantitative and qualitative research providing comprehensive market intelligence to the world’s leading businesses and institutions. YouGov was recently named one of the world’s top 25 research companies by the respected American Marketing Association Top 25 Report and has a proven, published record of uniquely accurate data and actionable insights informing political, cultural and commercial organizations around the globe. http://research.yougov.com/

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About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.