According to the poll, despite the widespread adoption of Common Core State Standards, 62 percent said they had never heard of the new standards. Of the 38 percent who said they had heard of them, many reported thinking [incorrectly] that the federal government is forcing states to adopt them and that the standards cover every academic subject.
Only 41 percent of those surveyed said they thought the Common Core State Standards would make American schools more competitive globally—a goal of the standards initiative.
The common standards movement also goes hand-in-hand with new assessments, yet the public says that the increased testing is hurting, not helping, education. Only 22 percent of those polled said increased testing had helped the performance of their local schools, compared to 28 percent in 2007.
This year, 36 percent of those questioned said the testing was hurting school performance; 41 percent said it had made no difference.
“Americans are realizing that educating students is not about teaching to the test or evaluating teachers on student performance,” said Von Sheppard, assistant superintendent of Boulder Valley School District, Colo., for the report. “It’s about how teachers relate to their students, motivate them, and create a pathway for them to unlock their potential.”
The poll also found that the public is “increasingly cautious” about including standardized test results for teacher evaluation. This year, 58 percent of the respondents said they oppose using standardized test results for teacher evaluations—compared to 47 percent last year.
“Americans’ mistrust of standardized tests and their lack of confidence and understanding around new education standards is one of the most surprising developments we’ve found in years,” said William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and co-director of the PDK/Gallop Poll in a statement. “The 2013 poll shows deep confusion around the nation’s most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders.”
“Americans support certain idea of goals, but don’t understand the programs or initiatives being pursued to improve student achievement,” he continued. “Our local and national leaders must do a better job of explaining what they’re doing and why.”
Sixty-three percent also said they oppose the idea of releasing information to the media on how the students of individual teachers perform on standardized tests. Fifty-two percent now say teachers should have the right to strike, as well—up from 40 percent in 1980.
(Next page: School safety concerns)
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