Additionally, “the Common Core expects that there’s been at least eight to nine years of aligned instruction before we get our students,” said Salazar, who is in his 19th year teaching. “We’re supposed to make sure they’re analyzing complex documents and writing profound narrative texts. Some of our students may not have developed those skills.”
Teachers fear unfair tests, not innovation: As with any new assessment, it’s widely expected that students will struggle with the Common-Core-aligned tests being rolled out by states. In the Scholastic survey, nearly 60 percent of teachers said their concerns about Common Core implementation were influenced by the fact that their own job evaluations were tied to how well their students perform on those new assessments. This is hardly a surprise, said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“The Common Core State Standards can work if teachers have the time, tools, and trust to implement them, and if the standards are decoupled from the testing fixation that has taken hold in this country thanks to No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top,” she said in a statement about the new Scholastic survey.
As for the innovation angle, 68 percent of the surveyed teachers said they had sought out ideas for teaching that would facilitate deeper learning among their students. But there is a potentially alarming flipside: Only half that many teachers—34 percent—said they obtained those kinds of materials from their school, district, or state.
A mantra of the Common Core’s advocates has been that it sets standards, not curriculum: teachers are not being told what to teach, but rather given grade-level expectations for what students should know and be able to do, year by year. However, based on the responses of the teachers surveyed by Scholastic, there isn’t a clear path for finding appropriate tools to guide instruction.
A similar tension exists when it comes to training for educators. Four out of every 10 teachers said they had sought out their own professional development to better prepare for the new standards. (In a recent survey by Education Week, teachers said they were getting more training related to the standards, but it wasn’t necessarily making them feel better prepared to implement them.)
It will be especially interesting to hear what teachers think about the Common Core after the implementation is further along in more districts, and the first round of testing results come out following the spring assessments. I’m also hopeful that at some point a survey is done to ask the students themselves how they feel about the new standards. Like teachers, their voices too often go unheard.
This post appears courtesy of The Educated Reporter.